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The Sacrifice And Priest

It has been well said that "in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ there is an infinite fulness, which meets every necessity of man, both as a sinner and as a worshipper ... The first cry for mercy of the guilty sinner is answered by the blood of the Sacrifice. It penetrates to the deepest depths of his need-it raises him to the highest heights of heaven, and fits him to be there, a happy worshipper in the immediate presence of the throne of God."

Perhaps no other feature of Christ and His work is more fully set forth in type and shadow than those of Sacrifice and Priest, and these are designed by the Spirit of God to bring before us beauties and features that without them we could not know.

Seeing that the passover contains basic principles we will look at its shadow first, before we proceed to note the fuller presentation in the Levitical offerings.

The judgement of God was about to fall upon the land of Egypt, and the Israelites in that land were in danger of that judgement. God, however, had a means of escape for such as heard and heeded His word. This salvation was to be had by the death of a lamb. Its blood had to be sprinkled on door posts and lintels of the houses wherein they were. The divine promise was, "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall be no plague upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."

Egypt is a picture of the world; because of sin all the world has been brought under the judgement of God. Like Israel in their firstborn, if men are to be delivered from divine judgement it must be by virtue of the blood of a Lamb-" the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1.29). Thus the word of the Lord standeth sure: "He that heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgement, but hath passed out of death into life."

The removal of leaven from their homes, and their feasting joyfully on the roast lamb have a voice for the people of God to-day, "For our Passover also bath been sacrificed, even Christ"; in view of which the church in Corinth was commanded to "Purge out the old leaven (malice and wickedness), that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened" (1 Corinthians 5.7), and to keep festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (verse 8).

"It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them' out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD, to' be much observed of all the children of Israel throughout their generations." In like manner it is ours to remember that on the night in which He was betrayed the One who suffered for us on Calvary commanded, "This do in remembrance of Me." He had taken a loaf and a cup of wine, and having given thanks to God He brake the loaf and poured out the wine, saying, "Take, eat; this is My body"; and "Drink ye all of it, " (Matthew 26.; 1 Corinthians 11.24, 25).

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come." That the early disciples did obey their Lord in this matter may be gleaned from Acts 2.42; and that they did so on the first day of the week Acts 20.7 definitely states.

Once each year the nation of Israel had to have their sins dealt with if they were to continue in the service of God. "Because of the uncleannesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins: and ... for the tent of meeting, that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses " atonement had to be made. When the high priest had made atonement for himself and for his house, a goat was slain for the people, and its blood was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat seven times. The blood was also applied to the altar that was before the LORD. While this victim bore the judgement due to sin, the live goat, or scapegoat, had " all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins " confessed over its head, and he was sent away "by the hand of a man appointed into the wilderness " (Leviticus 16.). In this we find both sacrifice and priest, and we are reminded of the presentation of Christ in Hebrews chapter 2., "Wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." The people here are those with a national status, as Israel had in the past. As the apostle Peter tells us. "Which in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (2.10). What a comfort this is to a people whose service is marked with so much failure, that we have a merciful and faithful High Priest whose sacrifice can never fail ! He is our Sacrifice and Priest.

Before we proceed further in the Hebrew epistle we will now draw attention to the offerings of the early part of the book of Leviticus, and will do so with the utmost brevity.

In the trespass offering a ram had to die for the sinner, willing or unwilling though he be; so of Christ we read, "Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification" (Romans 4. 25). The one who brought his trespass offering had to make restitution in full, and add the fifth part more thereto. Here we think of Psalm 69.4, "Then I restored that which I took not away." In the addition of the fifth part we may learn that Christ by His sacrifice has brought more to God than was lost through the fall of Adam. What a rich harvest will be garnered from the empty tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ! Myriads upon myriads of justified sinners will raise a loftier song around the throne of God than could have come from unfallen beings :

"A song which even angels

Can never, never sing;

They know not Christ as Saviour,

But worship Him as King."

As the blood was sprinkled before the veil in sin offerings for the people we are caused to think of the far-reaching effects of sin, as atonement must be made in the holy place. So of Christ we read, He "through His own blood entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption " (Hebrews 9.12); and the Holy Spirit contrasts the efficacy of His blood with the blood of bulls and goats thus, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (9.14). Solemnly we consider what this involved for our Lord Jesus:

"Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5.21).

Because of the infinite value of the sacrifice of Christ the worshipper being once cleansed has "no more conscience of sins." We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all and glorying in the fact that His work can never fail, we have "boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which He dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a Great Priest over the House of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, haying our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water: let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for He is faithful that promised" (Hebrews l0. 19-23).

In the sacrifice of peace offerings God, the priests, and the worshippers enjoyed happy fellowship or communion together. This is seen in that God received His portion first-the fat upon the altar; the wave breast and the heave thigh or shoulder were given "unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons"; then all that remained of the sacrifice was the portion of the worshippers. This reminds us of the words in 1 John 1.8, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us:

"yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."

Christ has made peace through the blood of His cross, and now those who are made a kingdom of priests can feast upon that breast which speaks of His love and affection; and on the shoulder, which being the place of strength reminds us of the eternal security of the believer in Christ.

The burnt offering presents Christ as giving "Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell." That

sacrifice was all for God-head, fat, inwards and legs, the whole animal was consumed upon the altar. Priests and worshippers could be there to muse, but not to eat. Here we think of the Son of God doing all the will of His Father, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.

For as He died upon the tree,

For us was shed His blood,

But more than that since unto Thee

He gave Himself, 0 God.

Christ, spotless, offered Thee Himself,

Oh what a Gift divine!

Its fragrant worth no tongue can tell,

What joy, 0 God, was Thine!"

Whereas in the sin offering our sin is transferred to Christ, in the burnt offering we are accepted in His accepted sacrifice. The good pleasure of God thus finds us " accepted in the Beloved." We do well to rejoice that it is all to the praise of the glory of His grace; and praise our God who willed it thus

The Son who bath by inheritance a more excellent name than angels (Hebrews 1.4), bath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the sufferings of death (2.9). He laid hold of the seed of Abraham, wherefore it beloved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.

Moses was not made a high priest, he had not known the affliction of the work in the brick kilns in Egypt, but Aaron had been through it all, and was thus able to appreciate what it meant to suffer thus. Our High Priest bath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin : hence the exhortation; " Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need" (4.16).

In His priesthood, which is after the order of Melchizedek, Christ is glorified in that He has been called thereto by God; "and having been made perfect, He became unto all them that obey Him the Author of eternal salvation." Having passed through the heavens (4. 14), He, as a Forerunner, bath entered for us within the veil (6.19, 20).

He is there for US, representing us. As Aaron represented Israel in the presence of God with the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders, according to their birth; and upon his breast, on the breastplate of judgement, according to their names, twelve; so our Great High Priest represents us before God in the sanctuary above-the shoulders, the place of omnipotent strength; the breast, the place of infinite love and affection. How real, deep and lasting are all these for us! What comfort and encouragement these truths afford to the heart of the believer! What holy and reverent boldness should characterize us as we approach the throne of grace where this wonderful High Priest is engaged as a Minister of the sanctuary!

The superiority of Christ's Melchizedek priesthood over the Aaronic order is set forth in chapter 7. thus-

(a)"Through Abraham even Levi, who receiveth tithes, bath paid tithes " (9):

(b)Christ is " another Priest, who bath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life " (16):

(c)He was made a Priest with an oath, "The Lord sware and will not repent Himself, Thou art a Priest for ever" (21):

(d)He bath His Priesthood unchangeable, or, bath a priesthood that doth not pass to another (24):

(e)"He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through Him" (25):

(f)He is sinless and without infirmity (27):

(g)He is "a Son, perfected for evermore" (28).

We have cause to rejoice in our hearts,

" For such a High Priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens."

Christ "sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man." In this we note a contrast with Aaron and his successors. No priest of the order of Aaron ever sat down in the holy place. There was only one seat in the holies, and that was the mercy-seat, God's throne. Their work was never finished. "And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: but He, when He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right band of God" (10.11, 12). His were the "better sacrifices," "the sacrifice of Himself." He, "when He had made purification of sins, sat down."

"Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices:

wherefore it is necessary that this High Priest also have somewhat to offer " (8.3). Under the law of Moses the worshippers brought their gifts and sacrifices to the priest, and the priest presented them to the Lord on the altar. It is now the work of our High Priest in heaven to offer to God the gifts and sacrifices which His people bring, and,

"Though feeble are our praises

Christ adds His sweet perfume,

And love the censer raises

Their odours to consume."

In His own perfection, and with His own fragrance, our spiritual sacrifices reach His God and Father: they are "acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

A perfect Sacrifice, a perfect Priest who is "a Son perfected for evermore," and a "greater and more perfect tabernacle" in the heavens, are the special features of this favoured dispensation. Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all we have been eternally sanctified, "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (10.14). Still, though we are made "clean every whit" and have " no more conscience of sins," we must remember the truth of 1 John 1. and 2. "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins." By confession we will find God is faithful and righteous to forgive, " and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Unconfessed sin will hinder fellowship, and make true worship impossible.

Fear not to come, if sin o'ertake,

Confessing all to God,

Who will forgive us for His sake,

And cleanse us by His blood."

We are reminded of the great value of the Sacrifice in Hebrews

10.28-31. "A man that bath set at nought Moses' law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who bath trodden under foot the Son of God, and bath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and bath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? " The wilful sinner under the law could find no sacrifice to meet his need, "that soul shall be cut off from among his people" (Numbers 15.80). Presumptuous sinning is tantamount to counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. This thought should cause us to fear, and with David to say,

"Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins;

Let them not have dominion over me: then shalt I be perfect

(Psalm 19. 13).

Further, in that we are come "to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel," we have the warning, "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh ... Him that warneth from heaven"; and are exhorted, "Let us have grace (or thankfulness, R.V.M.), whereby we may offer service wellpleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire " (Hebrews 12.24-29).

Finally in chapter 13. we have. references to the blood of the covenant, the blood that flowed from Him who is our Sacrifice and Priest. Since He suffered outside the gate our responsibility is to "go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach " (13.12, 18). May "the God of peace" make us "perfect in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ."