We now come to the sacrifice of Peace-offerings, the last offered of all the typical offerings. Accordingly, we shall find it revealing to us that aspect of Christ's offering, which is generally the last apprehended by the believer. And I may add, that as it was “burnt upon the Burnt-offering” (Lev. 3:5), and was directly consequent upon it, so it reveals to us the consequences of those aspects of Christ's offering which are prefigured in the Burnt and Meat-offerings.
We may examine it, first, in its contrasts to the other offerings, that is, as bringing out one definite and particular aspect of Christ's offering; and then, secondly, in its several varieties, as shewing the different apprehensions enjoyed by Christians of this aspect.
I. And, first, In its contrast to the other Offerings, it may be sufficient to enumerate two chief points: (1.) It was a sweet-savour offering; and, (2.) the offerer, God, and the priest were fed by it. In the former of these particulars, it differed from the Sin-offerings; in the latter, it differed from all others.
(1.) It was a “sweet-savour” offering (Lev. 3:5, 16). On the import of this distinction, I need here say little, since we have already more than once examined it. Suffice it to say that here, as in the Burnt and Meat-offerings, we are presented with a view of the offering, not as offered with any reference to sin, but rather as shewing man giving to God that which is sweet and pleasant to Him.
But the Burnt-offering and Meat-offering were both “sweet savours.” This particular, therefore, though distinguishing the Peace-offering from the Sin-offerings, gives us nothing by which we may distinguish it from the other sweet-savour offerings. I pass on, therefore, to the next particular, in which the Peace-offering very distinctly differs from the Burnt and Meat-offerings.
(2.) The second point in which the Peace-offering differed from others was, that in it the offerer, the priest, and God, all fed together. This was the case in no offering but the Peace-offering. In this they had something in common. Here each had a part. They held communion in feeding on the same offering.
We have first the offerer's part; then God's part; then the priest's part; and included in this last, though separately mentioned, the part which was fed upon by the priest's children. (See Lev. 7:31, 32, and compare Numbers 18:9-11.)
And what a view does this give of the efficacy of the offering! how does it magnify “the unsearchable riches of Christ!” God, man, and the priest, all fed together, all finding satisfaction in the offering. God first has His part and is satisfied, for He declares it to be very good. “It is an offering made by fire of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (Lev. 3:5). Man (in Christ) as offerer has his part, and is permitted to share this offering with his friends (Lev. 7:16). And the priest, that is, Christ in His official character, is satisfied also, and His children are satisfied with Him (Lev. 7:31). What a picture is here presented to us! The offerer feasts with God, with His priest, and with the priest's children.[i.] In the Peace-offering the offerer feasts, in other words, finds satisfaction, and feeds upon the same offering of which a part has already satisfied God: for a part of the Peace-offering, (as we shall see in the sequel,) “the fat, the blood, the inwards,” before the offerer can touch his part, must have already been consumed on the altar.
We get nothing like this either in the Burnt or Meat-offering. In them we have the offering satisfying God; all consumed by His fire, and ascending to Him, as in the Burnt-offering; or shared, as in the Meat-offering, with His priests. But in all this, though God was satisfied, the offerer got no part of the offering. The Burnt and Meat-offerings were (as we have already seen) the emblem of the perfect fulfilment of the law's requirements. In them we see man (in Christ) offering to God that which perfectly satisfies Him. God finds food in the offering, and declares it to be very good. But in all this the offerer has nothing. The Peace-offering shews us the offerer himself satisfied.
Now the offerer here, as elsewhere, is Christ; Christ in His person standing “for us” (Eph. 5:2). But the extent to which we are interested in this, and the fact that, till we realize it, the Peace-offering is unintelligible, require that I should dwell here for a moment, before I proceed to details.
I repeat, then, that in all the offerings, Christ, as offerer, stands as our representative. Whether it be in the Sin-offering, the Burnt-offering, the Meat-offering, or the Peace-offering, He is the man Christ Jesus “for us.” He is for us without the camp, for us put upon the altar, for us bearing our sins, for us accepted and satisfied. And when we say He did this “for us,” we mean that He did it instead of us, nay, as us. Thus, when He was judged, He was judged as us. When He kept the law, He kept it as us. When He was accepted, He was accepted as us; and so when He was satisfied, He was satisfied as us.
Now, the consequence of Christ's thus standing “for us” is, that what is true of Him, is true of all who are in Him. Thus the offerings, in shewing us Christ's position, in shewing Him, only shew us our own; nay, I may say, when they shew us Christ, they shew us the Church, for He stood “for us.” “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17): we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). I do not say that this is apprehended even by those who are seen of God to stand in these blessings. I need not say how little “we apprehend of that for which we are apprehended” (Phil. 3:12). I simply state the fact, that in all those relations which are typified by the various offerings, Jesus in offering them as a man stood “for us;” He stood as us; nay, He was us, if I may say so. When Christ offered, God saw us offering; for Christ stood as offerer “for us.” God looked upon Christ as us. He sees us, therefore, as Christ before Him. (See 1 Cor. 12:12; “So also is Christ.”) And just as truly as Christ stood for us and as us, so as a consequence do we stand in Him to God-ward. What He did, we are reckoned to have done, for as us He did it. So what He enjoys, we enjoy, for as us He enjoys it.
Now this last thought is the thought of the Peace-offering. Christ is satisfied and fed by His offering. But in this He stands for us; and therefore we are satisfied as soon as we thus apprehend Him. The thought may be a little more complex than that of the Sin and Burnt-offering; but it proceeds exactly on the same principle. Just as the feeble believer in Christ, when he sees Christ offering the Sin-offering, sees that God's wrath against sin has been met, for Jesus standing instead of us as man has borne it;—just as the same feeble saint, when he sees Christ offering the Burnt and Meat-offering, sees that God and His requirements have been satisfied, for Jesus standing for us as man has satisfied them;—just so the same believer when he sees Christ offering the Peace-offering, sees that man is satisfied with the offering, for Jesus standing for us as man is satisfied. And as our sense of acceptance depends on realizing Him as accepted for us, so our sense of satisfaction and communion with God depends on realizing Him in communion for us. Thus seeing the Peace-offering, and by it finding that Christ as man is satisfied, is to those who know themselves “in Christ,” to find that they themselves are satisfied.
I fear that there are but too many saints who never realize this aspect of the Offering, and therefore never fully experience that satisfaction which the Offering has purchased for them. I do not say that the blessing is not theirs; this and all else is theirs, if they are “in Christ.” But those things which are true for them in Him, are not realized by them in their own experience. Experience is, I again repeat, nothing more than our measure of apprehension of that which is already true for us in Christ. Thank God, the sufficiency of His work does not depend upon our apprehension of it. But our satisfaction depends much on our apprehension. It is because we apprehend so little that we have so little comfort.
And our strength particularly depends on our apprehension of that view of Christ which the Peace-offering teaches; for strength is sustained by food, and the Peace-offering shews man fed by the sacrifice. Yet how little is this view of Christ apprehended! Am I asked the cause? It is because so few really know acceptance. As long as it is at all a question with you whether God has accepted you or not, your chief desire will be to know God satisfied, far rather than to be satisfied yourself. As a criminal whose reprieve has not yet come, you will not ask, Have I bread for today? but, Am I pardoned? Death stares you in the face: you cannot think of food or raiment. But let the question of acceptance be settled: let this be fully known; and then you will find time to listen to the cravings of that new nature, which needs to be sustained and nourished. What is to satisfy this? Nothing but the precious meat of the altar. And this is shewn as provided for us in Jesus, when we see Him, as our representative, the offerer of the Peace-offering.
And here observe what the offerer feasts on. He feasts on the meat of the altar: his food is the spotless offering which has already satisfied the Lord.
Now this offering represents “the body of Jesus” (Heb. 10:5-10), including His walk, His thoughts, His strength, His affections. These, as we saw in the Burnt-offering, were the things He sacrificed; and because they were unblemished, they were accepted. As a sweet savour they satisfied God. But they give satisfaction, too, because they are unblemished, to the offerer. Christ finds His meat in His own offering. He “is satisfied with the travail of His soul” (Isa. 53:11).
Jesus as offerer stands “for us;” and by His feeding on the offering, He shews how man is satisfied. Would to God His people might learn here what, as respects atonement, will alone satisfy them. Out of God's presence man seeks food in many things. He may try “the riotous living of the far country:” yea, in his hour of need he may come to “the husks which the swine eat” (Luke 15:13, 15, 16). In seeking God's presence too, not a few have yet to learn what alone can give peace and satisfaction in that presence. Some of those who are longing to feast with God, are seeking satisfaction in their frames or feelings. Others are trying their own righteousness, their experiences, their walk, their service. Are these things the unblemished meat of the altar? Is it by these things Christ has satisfied God? Are our experiences, our frames, our feelings, the things on which, as respects atonement, Christ and God have fellowship? If not, they cannot be the meat upon which we, as needing atonement, are to feed with God. If Christ as man could not have communion with God through anything save a spotless offering, so neither can any of His members: if they are fed at all, they must be fed as He is. Oh, let us be wise and see our calling, nor seek satisfaction save in Jesus! He is the only perfect One; out of Him there is nothing fit for the altar, nothing suited therefore to feed our souls. When Christ feeds with God on that which is blemished; when He makes a Peace-offering of the unclean; then, nor till then, let us seek our food in the unclean, the torn, the blemished. But while we see that even He, as far as atonement is concerned, can only be fed with His own perfect unblemished offering, let us as in Him reject all others, and feed and be satisfied in Him.
How important is the lesson taught here; how unanswerably does it express this truth, that, as respects atonement at least, the Christian has nothing to feed on with God, but that which Christ Himself feeds on with Him: that however right our experiences or attainments or walk or service may be in their place, they are not the offering for atonement, nor can they ever be the ground of peace. And indeed, for a Christian to seek his food in these things, is as though an Israelite were to take his garments to feed on. In truth the man who seeks satisfaction in his own attainments just does this: what should be his raiment, he makes his meat. The garments of the Israelite are the appointed symbol of a man's deportment and manifested character (Psalm 73:6; 109:18; Isa. 52:1; 59:17; 61:3; Zech. 3:3; Col. 3:8, 12; Rev. 3:4; 16:15, &c.). So the New Testament interprets the type: “The fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:8). This garment might be easily defiled. But let us suppose it clean: are garments to be fed on? The type answers at once: it is the meat of the altar, the sweet savour alone, which satisfies. Our prayers, our love, our service, these things, like the leavened cake at Pentecost, though accepted for the sake of what accompanies them, are one and all in themselves blemished. In one sense indeed, our services are a “sweet savour” (Phil. 4:18); but it is only in the same sense that our persons are “righteous.” In either case the works and persons are accounted to be what in themselves they are not, in virtue of that perfect Work and Person, in whom and through whom they are offered. Just as the sinner, though in himself vile, is accounted righteous in Him through whom we have received the atonement; so are His offerings, though leavened, accounted sweet in the savour of that through which they are offered. The sinner accepted in Christ becomes indeed himself, in spirit, both an offerer and offering; yet even then his “spiritual sacrifices,” whether of work or worship, are only “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Like “the leavened cake” already referred to, our works or worship, because imperfect, could never be accepted, did they not come before God with the sweet savour, and as the consequence of another and a perfect offering. Were they offered to make atonement they would be rejected. They are only accepted because atonement has been already made. To make atonement, there must be perfection in the offering: God will not be satisfied with ought less than a perfect sacrifice. If we wish to be fed and satisfied with Him, it must be in and through that “One offering” which has already satisfied His holiness.
But this leads us to the next particular in the Peace-offering; namely, that,
[ii.] The offerer feasts with God. Man (in Christ) and God find common food. The offering is shared between them. The thought here is not, as in the Burnt-offering, merely that God finds satisfaction in the offering. It includes this, but it goes further. It shews communion; for God and man share together.
I would that this aspect of the Offering were more familiar to the minds of Christians: how would it raise their thoughts of the value of the Offering, and of the place, which, through the Offering, man is called to! We should not, we could not, truly realize the joy and satisfaction God finds in the Offering, without obtaining more exalted views of its wondrous preciousness and efficacy. We could not behold man sharing with God in that which God declares to be most precious to Him, without being led to a far deeper apprehension of man's high and blessed destiny. But are these our thoughts of the Offering? Do we, when we think of it, think of the joy God finds in it; or do we thus habitually realize the place into which it puts man as sharer with God? Alas! to how many are such thoughts strangers; and the reason is, because as yet they have not seen the Peace-offering. If only they may be delivered from wrath! If only they may hope for acceptance! This is all many saints hope for, this is practically all they expect. But is this all that the Offering has purchased? Is this all that Christ enjoys? Is His place bare acceptance? Is His portion only pardon? Is He not, as man, God's heir and first-born, the One in whom His soul delights, the One with whom God holds unbroken fellowship, to whom He reveals all His mind? And does Jesus hold this alone? Are we not, in Him, called to the same communion? Are we not in all,—His fellow-heirs, His joy, His bride, His members? The Peace-offering answers the question when it shews us man feasting with Jehovah; when it tells us that Christ's place is our place, and that in Him we are called to share with God.
And how clearly does this portion of the type give the answer to the question, What is communion? Communion is simply sharing; to have communion, therefore, we must have something to share; and to have communion with a holy God, we must have something which we can share with Him. We cannot share nothing, and He will not share with us in the unclean. Our attainments, therefore, cannot yield communion, nor our works, for the best have sin in them. But, thank God, there is a perfect offering, the offering of our blessed Lord; and if we would have communion with God, the only way is to share that offering.
And this at once gives us the key to the cause of our general and acknowledged lack of communion. Of intercourse we have enough, perhaps too much. Of communion, how very little! The reason is, so little of Christ's Offering is apprehended, that when believers meet they have scarce anything of Him to share. And the same is true of our approaches to God, for there may be intercourse with God without communion. How often when we approach God do we speak to Him only about our feelings, our experiences, our sins, our trials. All this is right; we cannot be without these, and we are right to tell them to our Father. But after all, this of itself is not communion, nor will speaking of these things ever yield it to us. Let us come before God to be filled with Christ, to be taken up with Him, His life, His ways, His sweetness; let the confession of our failure and nothingness in ourselves be made the plea that we may be filled with Him; and our intercourse will be soon changed to communion, for in Him we shall have something we can share. May the Lord lead us more into His presence, there to be taught what we possess in Jesus; and then, when we meet our brethren or our Father, we shall feast together on what there is in Him.
[iii.] But further, in the sacrifice of Peace-offerings, the offerer feasts with the priest (Lev. 7:32, 33). The sacrificing priest, as I have already observed, is always Christ, viewed in His official character as Mediator. We learn here how the offering, which He offered as man, feeds, that is, satisfies Him, not only as man, but also as Mediator.
To understand this we must recollect and apprehend the varied relations in which Christ stands connected with the offering; for He appears for us in many offices, in more than one relation. In connexion with the Offering alone, we see Him, as I have said, in at least three characters. He stands as offerer, but He is also the offering; and He who is both offerer and offering is also priest. Yet each of these is a distinct relation; each gives us a different thought of Christ. As offerer He is presented to us as man: there is one in our nature satisfying God. Thus in the offerer we rather see Christ's person: it is a man standing for men. The offering gives us another thought. It is not Himself, so much as what He did. Here it is not His person, so much as His work and character, which the type brings before us. The priest again is even more distinct. It is Christ in His office as Mediator: here it is neither Christ's person nor His work, but one of His offices, that is presented to us.
Now, if this simple distinction be apprehended, as I think it must be more or less by every Christian, it will be manifest that there are things true of Christ in one relation which are by no means true of Him in another. For instance, His intercession for us is as priest. As the offering, He does not intercede; as lamb, He dies for us. So again as priest and offerer, He is fed; as the lamb, as the offering, He is not fed. Now there are offerings in which the priest finds food, but from participating in which the offerer is excluded: some of the Sin-offerings are of this latter character, for in them the priest is fed, whole the offerer has nothing. The Sin-offerings, as we shall see more fully in the sequel, are man satisfying offended justice. They are not man giving something sweet to God, but man receiving from God in his offering the penalty of sin. These Sin-offerings supply food to the priest (Lev. 6:25-30), that is, Christ as Mediator finds satisfaction in them, but they afford Him no food as man the offerer: as man in them He only confesses sin. The priest, God's official servant, is satisfied, because offended justice is vindicated: but man, who pays the penalty in his offering, finds no satisfaction in the act.
The Peace-offering gives us a very different view of the offering. In it man, as well as the priest, is satisfied. In bearing the penalty of sin, that is, in the Sin-offering, man found no satisfaction. But he does find it in the sacrifice of Peace-offerings; here he shares the offering with God. Nor is the priest excluded from this offering: the Peace-offering feeds him, too. If, as priest, Christ found satisfaction in the Sin-offering, that offering which only vindicated offended justice, we might expect to find Him equally satisfied in the offering which fed both God and man. And the Peace-offering reveals that it is so. God and man feast in peace together; and the Priest, the common friend of both, seeing them satisfied, is Himself satisfied also.
How blessed is the thought here revealed to us! how does it open to us the heart of Christ, the joy which He feels as Mediator in seeing communion instituted between God and man! Surely we lose not a little in our communion, if we forget the joy which the Mediator finds in it; if we overlook the satisfaction which He experiences when He sees man at peace with God. He who knows the full value of the offering, never forgets that by it the priest is fed. And if the presence of beloved friends enhances the sweetness of each earthly blessing; and if the absence of those we love makes the full cup lose half its enjoyment; how much must it enhance our joy to know that He who loves us is feasting with us; what must they lose of the sweetness of communion who forget that in it our Priest is fed! This I know, Christ never forgets that when He feasts, He feasts with us. Even yet He says, as once of old, “With desire I desire to eat this sacrifice with you” (Luke 22:15). Shall we, then, have no thought of His joy; shall we forget the satisfaction He finds in the offering? Those who can do this have as yet learnt but little of the Peace-offering; for in the Peace-offering the Priest is fed.
[iv.] But the type takes us further still, and shews us the Priest's children also sharing with the offerer in the Peace-offering (Lev. 7:31, 32 compared with Numb. 18:9-11). They, too, as well as the offerer, the priest, and God, find satisfaction in this blessed offering. Our first question here, of course, must be,—Who are represented by the Priest's children?
We have already seen that the Priest is Christ; Christ viewed in His official character as Mediator. His children, that is, His family, are therefore the Church; but the Church viewed in one particular aspect. The Church, like her blessed Lord, stands both to God and man in more than one relation; and each of these different relations requires in the type a different emblem. This we have abundantly seen is true of Christ: but it is no less true of the Church, His body. For instance, just as the varied pictures we have considered,—the offering, the priest, the offerer,—all shew out our blessed Lord, while yet each shews Him in a different character; so in like manner is it with the Church also. She, too, has varied relations, which require varied emblems. In one we see her in service for God; in another in communion with Him. Israel, as the chosen nation, represents the Church as “the peculiar people,” looked at simply as the seed of Abraham, and as such, in covenant with God. The Levites give us a different thought: they shew us the Church in service; as ministering for God before men, carrying His ark, and caring for His tabernacle. (Note: I may observe here that both Priests and Levites are types of the whole Church, not of a part of it. We are told that by God's express command “the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel” (Numbers 1:47, 54; 2:33). By this appointment the tribe of Levi was purposely separated, so that it might not be looked at merely as a part of Israel. Thus it constitutes a distinct picture, and shews a distinct relation of the Church.) The family of Priests give us yet another thought. Here we have the Church in communion with God; as the seed of the High Priest and Mediator, sharing with Him in His access to God and in intercession; having a right to stand in the holy place, where no eye sees them but God's.
If this be seen, it will sufficiently reveal the import of the Priest's children feeding on the Peace-offering. Their share in the sacrifice shews us the Church in communion, sharing with the Offerer in the satisfaction afforded by the Offering. To me this is a blessed thought, marking the extent and efficacy of this precious offering. Just as of old he that really feasted with God in the Peace-offering, could not do so without sharing with God's priests; so now communion with God, if enjoyed at all, must be shared with all in communion with Him. This is no question of choice: it cannot be otherwise; for he that is in communion with God must be in communion also with all whom He communes with. We may indeed be accepted in the Beloved, while yet we do not know our calling, or the relationship which exists in Christ between us and all His redeemed worshippers. But it is impossible to realize our standing in Christ, as offerers and partakers in Him of the Peace-offering, without finding that the Offering in which we rejoice links us with the joy of all God's spiritual priesthood.
And here let me observe in connexion with this particular, that it is possible for believers to find satisfaction in the offering as priest's children, when through ignorance of their union with Christ as the Offerer, they find no satisfaction as offerers in Him of the Peace-offering. Alas! the great mass of God's Israel are captives in Babylon or Egypt; cut off, though born to it, from the exercise of priesthood and sacrifice, and from the sacred meat of the altar. But even of those who do know the power of redemption, and who have fed on the offerings of the Lord, how few know that meat save as priests; how few apprehend it as offerers of the Peace-offering! I would that all saints fed as priest's children, but not less that they fed as offerers in Christ. To find satisfaction as priest's children in the offering, we need not know our oneness with Christ as Offerer. It is enough to see that He as the faithful Israelite has offered, and that we as priest's children have a claim on the sacrifice. But this measure of apprehension will not suffice to make us realize our share in the Peace-offering as offerers. To know that Christ as Offerer has offered, will not give us the food which belongs to the offerer, unless we apprehend our oneness with Him, that He stood for us, that we are “in Him.” This, alas! how few now see: how few therefore take the offerer's part in the Peace-offering. Thank God, if we know our priesthood, this relation alone will provide us meat: for another has satisfied God, and His priests may feed with Him. But while we do this, and rejoice in this relation, may the Lord lead us on to see yet another,—that our place is also “in Christ” as Offerer, and that we have satisfied God in Him. This as much as priesthood is our calling. May we but apprehend what we are apprehended for!
There is a particular connected with participation in the Peace-offering, which is incidentally mentioned here, and which we must not overlook; namely, that none, even though of the Priest's family, could eat of the offering unless they were clean (Lev. 7:20). There is a difference between being a priest and being clean. The fact of a man's contracting some defilement did not prove him to be no priest. On the contrary, the rules respecting clean and unclean were only for God's elect. This is very important truth. May the Lord make us all understand it better. It teaches us that it is one thing to be a priest; another thing to be a clean priest; yet the unclean priest, if of the chosen seed, is still in the covenant, and on very different ground from the seed of strangers. The Israelite, who through contact with uncleanness, might for a while be excluded from the Tabernacle, could at any time be restored again by using the appointed washings. Still his uncleanness for the time made him as a stranger, and cut him off from the meat of God.
The details of the law on this point (See Lev. 22:1-7) are well worthy our deepest attention. We learn that “leprosy” or “the running issue” excluded even a son of Aaron from the camp; the period of his exclusion depending on the time during which the disease was manifest. “Leprosy” and “the running issue” were both breakings out of the flesh, breakings out which were manifest to others, though manifested differently. They typify those outbreaks of the flesh in the Christian, which are too flagrant to be hid from others. The appointed discipline for these, now as of old, is temporary exclusion from the camp (1 Cor. 5:13). During this period the priest's child was still a priest; but to little purpose, for he was cut off from the altar. But there were defilements of a less manifest character than leprosy, less discernible by the eyes of man, which yet brought with them temporary uncleanness, and with it temporary exclusion from the Tabernacle. If a child of the priest touched any dead thing, or anything which was unclean by contact with the dead; or if he touched any creeping thing whereby he might be made unclean, or a man of whom he might take uncleanness, the law was express,—“The soul that hath touched any such shall be unclean until the even, and shall not eat of the holy things unless he wash his flesh with water.” A spiritual priest may in like manner contract defilement, and so have his communion hindered. If our spirits (for this dispensation is spiritual, not carnal,) come in contact with the spirit of the world, if its dead things are felt to touch us, if its creeping things affect our souls, no visible impression may be left to be seen by others, while yet we ourselves may feel our communion hindered. At such a time we may not, under a penalty of judgment (Compare Lev. 7:20, 21 and 1 Cor. 11:29), approach that which at other times is our food. Thank God, contact with the unclean, though it hinders our sense of communion, cannot remove the blood of the covenant. That still remains before God. We may not see it perhaps; He always sees it. Yet who would willingly be the unclean priest, cut off from participation with the altar; his days lost to God and to His tabernacle; his food eaten in the dark? (Note: He might not eat it until after sunset. See Lev. 22:7.)
Such are the chief particulars in which the Peace-offering differed from the other offerings. It was the sweet-savour offering in which not only God was satisfied, but in which man and the priest found satisfaction also.
I now pass on to observe,
II. The different grades or varieties which are observed in this Offering. These shew us the different measures of intelligence with which this view of Christ's offering may be apprehended.
And here, as there are several distinct sharers in the offering,—for God, man, and the Priest, have each a portion,—it may be well to consider each portion separately with its particular differences, since in each portion there are distinct varieties observed.
(1.) First, then, as to God's part in the Peace-offering. In this certain varieties at once present themselves; some of them relating to the value of the offering, others connected with the offerer's purport in the oblation.
[i.] To speak first of the varieties touching the value of the offering. We have here, just as in the Burnt-offering, several different grades. There is the “bullock,” “the lamb,” “the goat;” and these respectively represent here what they do in the Burnt-offering. Each gives us rather a different thought as to the character of Christ's blessed offering. But it is to be noticed here, that although in the Peace-offering we have nearly the same number of grades as in the Burnt-offering, in the details of these various grades we do not find nearly so much difference as is the case in the Burnt-offering. There is, indeed, the variety of “bullock,” “lamb,” and “goat,” shewing that the offering is apprehended under these various characters; but nearly all the rest seen respecting this portion of the offering, as to the mode of the oblation and the part taken by the offerer, is much the same. It will be remembered that, in the different grades of the Burnt-offering, a great variety was observed in the mode of oblation. In some the parts of the victim were seen to be discriminated; in others this was not so: in some a portion of the offering was seen to be washed in water; in others this was overlooked: in some the offerer was seen laying his hand on the offering; in others this was not observed: in some the offerer himself was seen to kill the offering; in others the priest killed it. But in the Peace-offering we lose this great variety, for in each grade the offering is treated nearly alike. There are indeed the different grades, but this is nearly all: and even these grades do not vary here so much as in the Burnt-offering. (Note: The “turtle-dove,” that is, the lowest view of the offering, is omitted.)
The import of this is sufficiently plain. It teaches that if God's part of the Peace-offering be apprehended at all, it will be apprehended nearly equally. If Christ is seen at all as offering the Peace-offering to God, the view of Him will lack no important particular, nor will His office be confounded with His person, nor will the various parts of His work be overlooked. The difference, for the most part, will simply have reference to the general character of the offering as “goat,” “lamb,” or “bullock.”
[ii.] But there are other varieties noticed in the type, as to that part of the Peace-offering which was offered to God, which are connected, not with the value of the offering, but with the offerer's purport in bringing the oblation. If we turn to the seventh chapter, where the distinction I refer to is mentioned, it will be seen that the Peace-offering might be offered in two ways. It might be offered either as a thanksgiving, that is, for praise (Lev. 7:12, “for praise”); (Note: So the LXX., and many versions.) or as a vow or voluntary offering, that is, for service (Lev. 7:16). If it were seen to be offered “for thanksgiving,” many particulars are noticed respecting man's share in it, which are entirely lost sight of and omitted when it is seen to be offered “for a vow.” And most of the varieties in the Peace-offering (I may say all the varieties touching the Priest's and Offerer's part in it) depend upon the view which may be taken of the general character of the offering, whether it were offered “for thanksgiving,” or whether it were offered “for a vow.” What these particular differences are, we shall note in their proper order and place when we come to consider the Varieties in the Priest's and Offerer's part of the Peace-offering. Suffice it here to state the import of the general distinction between “the Thanksgiving” and “the Vow;” and to shew wherein the view of the Peace-offering as seen offered “for thanksgiving,” differed from the Peace-offering to be offered “for a vow.”
To understand this, we must remember what the Offering was. It was Christ, as our representative, giving Himself to God for us. But the purport of this offering may be very differently apprehended: it may be seen as offered for praise, or in service. Jesus may be seen as offering Himself for God's glory; this is the offering “for praise:” or He may be seen offering Himself in God's service; this is the offering “for a vow.” Most Christians, I believe all of us at first, regard Christ's offering rather as a matter of service: we look on the atonement as something done by Christ in God's service; rather than as something which, from first to last, was for God's glory. Of course these two views are most intimately connected; but I note here, that though connected, they are distinct: and the difference, if it be seen in nothing else, is immediately seen in the results of either. It will be found in the type, and our experience confirms this, that the apprehension of Christ as bringing an offering for God's glory will lead us at once to far deeper and more extended views of its consequences, than the view of Christ as offering Himself in God's service. Accordingly, when the offering is apprehended as offered “for praise,” then many details and consequences connected with it are seen also, which are entirely omitted or lost sight of when the offering is seen as offered “for a vow.” (Note: Compare Lev. 7:12-15, which describes the offering “for praise,” with Lev. 7:16-18, which describes the offering “for a vow.”)
Having thus briefly marked the varieties in the Peace-offering, in that part which was offered to God, as shewing the different apprehensions which may be entertained by saints of this aspect of Christ's offering, we now proceed to consider,
(2.) The Priest's and Offerer's part, and the varieties which are observable here. It will be found that the particulars respecting this portion of the Peace-offering differ very much according as the offering is apprehended “for praise” or “for service.” “If he offer it for a thanksgiving (or for praise), then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace-offerings. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an heave-offering unto the Lord, and it shall be the priest's that sprinkleth the blood of the peace-offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace-offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice: and on the morrow also the remainder of it shall be eaten: but the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire” (Lev. 7:12-17).
Such is the law: let us now note these particulars.
When offered “for praise,” [i.] a Meat-offering is offered with the Peace-offering, of which the offerer, as well as the priests, partake; [ii.] leavened cakes also are seen to be offered with the sacrifice, which, though presented “with the Peace-offering,” are, of course, not burnt; and [iii.] further one cake out of the whole oblation,—that is, one of each sort, both leavened and unleavened,—is, after being waved as a Heave-offering to the Lord, given to the priest, who sprinkles the blood of the Peace-offerings; [iv.] the last thing noted is, that the flesh of the offering is to be eaten the same day, or until the morning. Three of these four particulars are entirely overlooked when the sacrifice of Peace-offerings is “for a vow;” and though the fourth is noticed, it is seen rather differently; the flesh in “the vow-offering” is eaten for two days, or until the third day. As several of the emblems used here have already been considered, though not in the combination which we find in the Peace-offering, a few words may be sufficient to point out their purport and significance here.
[i.] In the offering “for praise,” a Meat-offering is offered of which the offerer as well as the priests partake. The purport of the Meat-offering, as we have already seen, is the fulfilment of the second table of the Decalogue; man offering to God as a sweet savour the perfect accomplishment of his duty towards his neighbour. The peculiarity here is, that the offerer partakes of this Meat-offering, a thing not permitted in the common Meat-offering. The common Meat-offering shews us the fulfilment of the law, simply with reference to God, to satisfy Him. But that same fulfilment of the law has other aspects, one of which is, that is satisfies the Offerer also. This is the truth brought out in the Peace-offering, in which the Offerer, as well as God, finds satisfaction in the fulfilment of all righteousness. And this satisfaction is not only in the fulfilment of that part of the law which had reference to God, and which was represented by the offering of a life; but in that part also which referred to man, and was represented by the unleavened cakes of the Meat-offering. The latter part of this appears to be quite lost sight of, unless the Peace-offering is apprehended as offered “for praise.”
[ii.] But further, in the offering “for praise” leavened cakes also are seen to be offered with the sacrifice (Lev. 7:13). This emblem, too, has already occupied our attention in “the leavened cakes” of the day of Pentecost. Those cakes represent the offering of the Church. When Christ's work is seen merely as “the vow,” as a matter of service, the Church's offering does not come into sight: but when His offering is seen “for praise,” that is for God's glory, the Church is seen united with Him. The leavened cakes could not be burnt to God, but they come before Him “with” (Lev. 7:13; 23:18) the sweet-savour offerings. And though not fit to stand the trial of fire, or to satisfy God as the meat of His altar, they are yet presented for His gracious acceptance, and are fed upon by the Priest and Offerer.
[iii.] And this leads us to the next particular, namely, that one cake out of all the oblation (that is, one of each sort, both leavened and unleavened,) is given to the priest who sprinkles the blood (Lev. 7:14), while the remainder, both of the leavened and unleavened, belongs to him who brings the offering. Christ, as Priest, finds food and satisfaction not only in His own blessed and perfect offering: He feeds also on “the leavened cake:” the offering of His Church, with all its failings, satisfies Him. As Offerer, too, He presents this offering with His own: as Offerer, too, He feeds upon it. And we also, as offerers in Him, though not able to hold fellowship with God on the Church's offerings, (no part of leavened cake was burnt to God,) may yet find satisfaction in such offerings, even as Paul found satisfaction in the love of saints (2 Tim. 1:16; Philemon 7, 20). Sweet, however, as such offerings may be to us, and much as they may “refresh our bowels in the Lord,” they cannot by themselves be accepted of God, or be the ground of our communion with Him. The only meat we can thus share with Him is the unblemished and perfect meat of the altar. But these particulars and distinctions are not apprehended, unless the Peace-offering is seen as offered “for praise.”
[iv.] The last particular noticed respects the period during which the Peace-offering was to be eaten. The time for eating the offering “for praise” was “the same day” or “until the morning” (Lev. 7:15): in the “vow-offering” there is a little difference; it might be eaten “the same day and on the morrow,” or “until the third day” (Lev. 7:16, 17).
Now the “morning” and the “third day” are sufficiently common types, and are both constantly used, I believe, to denote the resurrection. (Note: For “the morning” see Exod. 12:8, 10; Psalm 49:14; Rom. 13:12. For “the third day,” Hosea 6:2; Luke 13:32; 1 Cor. 15:4, &c. The “eighth day” also is the resurrection, but the resurrection looked at in a different aspect, either to the view given in “the morning” or “the third day.”) Thus far I conceive the sense of the emblems unquestionable: but I am not so certain as to the different aspect of the resurrection represented by each of them. I am disposed, however, to think that “the morning” represents the resurrection as the time of Christ's appearing; while the thought connected with “the third day” is simply deliverance from the grave. In either case the main truth remains the same, that the Peace-offering is our food until the resurrection: but in the one case we eat as those whose time is short, in the night it may be, but in hope of the morning; in the other the thought of the morning is lost, and instead of it we see days of labour to intervene. I need not say that the first is the higher and happier view.
Such is the law of the Peace-offering, and such some of its chief varieties. In our progress we have little more than traced the outline, but how much does it contain. Even what we see and know of it reveals both depths and lengths of grace in the Redeemer; when we think of what our peace cost Him, and that He poured out His life to bring us to communion. Blessed be His name for the measure and manner of His love. May He reveal it to us by the Holy Ghost. Well might the Psalmist say, “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple” (Psalm 65:1, 4). “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house. Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures” (Psalm 36:8). The Lord grant us, not merely to know about these things, but to know Him better of whom they speak.
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