Page images
PDF
EPUB

This (which was the first month of the second year, after their coming out of Egypt) was solemnized the first day, by "rearing up the tabernacle, as here described. After this, the princes of Israel brought offerings of waggons and oxen for the service of the tabernacle, and other offerings for the dedication of the altar, which solemnity lasted twelve days, Numb. vii. On the fourteenth day of this month, the Israelites kept the passover in the wilderness, Numb. ix. 1, 2, 3. The following new moon, or first day of the second month, the Israelites were numbered, and their tents arranged into a square around the tabernacle, Numb. i. and ii. and all unclean persons put out of the camp, Num. v. 2, 3, 4. On the twentieth day of thạt month, the cloud being lifted up, the tabernacle now reared was then taken down, and the Israelites took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai, Numb. x. 11. In the mean time, God, speaking to Moses out of the tabernacle, gave him all those laws, for sacrificing, washing, and purifying, which we are presently to enter upon the consideration of, in the book of Leviticus.

It is here called, the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation,' or of the meeting, that is, where God met with his people, Exodus xxv. 22. and xxx. 36. The Septuagint translates it, the tabernacle of witness ; and it is expressly so called, Numb. ix. 15. and xvii. 7, 8. Acts vii. 44. Rev. xv. 5. It is so called, because it was a witness, or bare testimony to the tabernacle of Christ's body. With a direct reference to this, Paul says,

6 Who

gave

himself a ransom for all, the testimony in due time,' 1 Tim. ii. 6. Indeed, the gospel is called God's testimony. In verse 3. Moses is commanded to cover the ark with the vail, that is, hang up the vail around it, which separated and covered the holiest of all. This vail, we have seen, ty. pified the flesh of his body; and when he was crucified, that vail was rent, and the way into the holiest made manifest, in distinction from its being here covered. This will tend to explain the language in Rev. xv. 5. where the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven is « said to be opened.' In like manner, there even will be a grand opening of this tabernacle and tent at the period described, Rev. xi. 18. 19. viz. “ the time of the dead that they should be judged, and • that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, ' and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name small and great. . And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen,' (what is here ordered to be covered), • in his temple, ihe ark of his testimony.'

Tiere is an expression used in verse 18. ' and fastened his sockets,' which deserves notice, as expressive of the stability of the church, and very similar to what Paul calls • grounded and settled. In the 33d verse, we are told, that · Moses finished the work as a faithful representative of Christ, the son, over his own house, - whose house are we, • if we hold fast the confidence, and rejoicing of the hope, firm unto • the end.' Moses finished the pattern ; bur the great master-builder himself declared, that he, and t.e alone, finished the work which the

6

Father gave him to do. When Moses finished his tabernacle, a cloud, the symbol of God's presence, covered it, and the schechinah, his glory, filled it. In like manner, when the greater than Moses had completed his Father's work, the brightness of the Father's glory fill. ed the heavenly sanctuary. And as a proof that this was the case, there were wonders in heaven, ? blood, fire, and vapour (or cloud) • of smoke,' Acts ii. 19. The cloud and fire on the earthy tabernacle, were proofs of the divine approbation of the work ; as they pro. ved, on the day of Pentecost, that Gud had again built up the taber. nacle of David which had fallen down, and that his delight rested on his beloved Son. This cloud and glory distinguished the tabernacle as the dwellin -place of the Almighty, and though the great antitype is now in heaven itself, yet the same divine presence is promised to every dwelling.place of Mount Zion. In every church of Christ this promise will be fulfilled, Isa. iv 5. ; for though there is no visible cloud, no resplendent glory, yet his presence is promised to two or three churched in his name ; and they are great, having the Holy One of Israel in the midst of them. Moses was not able to enter in, because of this cloud and glory ; the Holy Ghost thus seeming to signify, that a greater than Moses was necessary to appear in the presence of God for us. The apostles saw this, Moses entering the cloud on the holy mount, but his Lord was there. We are next told, that when this cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, • the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys : but if the • cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that • it was taken up; for the cloud of the Lord was upon the taberna. • cle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house • of Israel, in all their journeys, ver. 38–38. It was no wonder indeed, that the hearts of the enemies of Israel sank within them, because of the glorious appearance which they made ; and well might Israel exultingly exclaim, • The Lord is our judge, our lawgiver and s our king, he will save us.' There is no language more natural for us than to murmur and say, · Had we such visible tokens of God's

presence, the cloud, and the fire, we would never go astray! But nothing can more clearly prove our ignorance of our own hearts. In his blessed word, the oracles of truth, we have what that cloud and fire represented; the scriptures are the guides of his church; they lead the Israel of God in all their journeyings ; nor was Israel, with her cloudy pillar, more wonderful in the eyes of the nations, than a little company of Christ's disciples, guided and directed by his word, will ever be to the surrounding world. The scriptures are to the world, what the pillar was to the Egyptians, a cloud and darkness, because of their ignorance of them. Men now see no form nor comeliness in the word of God, for the same reason that the Jews saw no beauty that they should desire him, when the Son of God was manifest in flesh.

Now, this was owing to their ignorance of him ; for had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But that same word, which to the world is cloudy and dark, very unmeaning and foolish, is to the church her brightest glory and ornament. When

Z

that word points out the way, she follows with confidence ; for it is a light to her feet, and a lamp to her path. Moses, highly honoured as he was, durst not move one step on his own authority ; the Israel. ites were not desired to proceed or stop as he directed. No! their sole guide and leader was the Holy One of Israel himself, in the cloud and in the glory. Antichrist is thus distinguished from the Lamb's bride. Christ's spouse

follows him whithersoever he goes; she comes up through the wilderness, leaning on her beloved. The mother of harlots, and all her daughters, follow human leaders; and the blind having long led the blind, both will very soon fall into the ditch.

HAVING now glanced through this wonderful portion of the Word of God, the book of Exodus, we pause, to acknowledge, upon a retrospect, what a trifling portion of the inexhaustible mine which it contains we have been able to uncover. We must remind our readers, that we profess not to mention every thing entitled to our attention, but merely a few outlines, to encourage of hers to search more carefully for the hidden treasure. We

may

with confidence assert, that in no part of the writings of Moses does he write more plainly of Christ, than in this book. In a particular manner, we recommend more minute investigation of that tabernacle, which was so eminent a figure of the body of Christ. In him all the sacred furniture, the altars, ark, mercy-seat, shew-bread, anointing oil, incense, &c. have their completion ; for in him it hath pleased the Father that all ful. ness should dwell.

The more we examine the patterns of things in the heavens, the more glorious will the heavenly things themselves appear to our minds ; and if we frequently follow Moses and Aaron into the earthly holy place, our minds will be comforted and solaced with a representation of heaven itself, - whither the forerunner is for

us entered, even Jesus, made a High.priest for ever after the order • of Melchizedek.' If Paul found reason to charge the Hebrews with being dull of hearing, and needing to be instructed as to the beginning words of the oracles of God, how much more is such language applicable at this day! It is a plain fact, that the reason of Moses and the prophets appearing so dark to our minds, is our ignorance of Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write. It is no uncommon thing thing to hear men, calling themselves divines, and professing to be teachers, acknowledging a dislike to many parts of the Old Testament, as at best unprofitable and vain ; but we may rest assu

ssured, that when the veil remains on Moses, there is some important blindness about the gospel itself; for, did we clearly perceive the light of the glorious gospel, as it shines in the face of Je

sus Christ, we could not shut our eyes to the reflecting glory which illuminates the face of Moses. We may boldly assert, that to the

eye which cannot trace the light of the moon, even the splendour of noon-day will be very much clouded.

SECTION IV.

LEVITICUS.

This book is entitled Leviticus, because it is chiefly occupied in Garrating the various services of the Levitical Priesthood. The laws of sacrifices and offerings, the sanctification of the people from external and internal defilement, the consecration of the priesthood, the distinctions of clean and unclean, and the great day of atonement, are here distinctly laid down; and the whole is summed up by those promises and threatenings, by which the law was enforced ; for he that despised Moses's law', died without mercy; all which God reveal. ed to Israel, by the miniştration of Moses, in the first month of the second year, anno nundi 2514. It may not be improper to add, that the name of this book adopted by our translators, is from the Greek; the Hebrew name of it is vajIKRA, and he called, being the first word of the book.

CHAP. I.- We have hitherto omitted to notice the sections into which the law of Moses was divided by the Jewish scribes. They had fifty-four sections or divisions, one of which was read every Sabbath-day. This book opens at the 24th section, And the Lord called unto Moses, viz. the Lord, whose glory we have just seen filling the tabernacle, proclaimed or declared unto Moses. In this two things are to be strictly attended to, 1. That the law of Moses comprehends only what was declared to him by God; and, 2. That the faithfulness of Moses in his office, consisted in a faithful communica. tion of what the Lord thus called to him. There was a very glorious display of the gospel in the manner of this revelation. When God descended on Mount Sinai, in awful majesty, it was to deliver his own law, the eternal, immutable rule of righteousness; but when the voice called out of the tent, from above the ark and mercy-seat, the faith of Israel was evidently directed to the latter days, when God should speak to us in his son. He now spake, inclosed in a tent of human workmanship ; but when the word was made flesh, he spake in the tent of that body which the Father had prepared for him, and which was euriously wrought in the lower parts of the earth. The first precept of the law from the voice within the tent,

respects sacrifice and offering. We may here remind our readers, that sacrifice was a very early ordinance of God; and that the Levitical law enjoins no new commandment, but merely arranges and adapts to the Levitical Tabernacle and Priesthood, what before could not be so restricted. The words in verse 2. If any man offer an offering,' may be literally read, Bring near a gift. The gift is in Hebrew corban, as referred to Matt. v. 23. viii. 4. xxiii. 18. Mark vii. ll. and Heb. v. 1. And to bring near, viz. to God, is evidently to offer to him. All the offerings of the law were evidently figures of Christ's offering, by which he for ever perfected his sanctified. The law perfected or completed nothing; it was merely the introducer of the better hope, by which we draw near to God; there is no drawing near to God but by sacıifice or offering. Thus the worshipper of old, in offering his oblation, drew near to God; and thus alone the guilty are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, viz. offered in sacrifice. Had the law made the worshipper perfect, had it really brought him near his Maker, then was there no necessity for another offering ; but when “sacrifice and offering would not do, because the divine delight was not in them, for the blood of bulls and goats could not take a. way sin, • Then said I, Lo I come, to do thy will I take delight, .O my God, a body hast thou prepared me.' Nor are Christians strangers to bringing near their oblation ; we are called to present our • bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our • reasonable service, Rom. xii. 1. By Jesus Christ, our great highpriest, now at the heavenly altar, we are called to offer unto God the sacrifice of praise continually, giving thanks to his name, Heb. xii, 14. • Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me,' Psal. 1. 23. It may in general be observed, that no beasts might be sacrificed to God, but these three kinds, beeves or cattle, sheep, and goats ; nor any fowls, but turtle doves and pigeons. Such animals alone were sacri. ficed as best represented the character of the great sacrifice.

In verse 3. we have the law of the burnt offering. It is called in Hebrew Ghnolah, or Gnoloth, that is, ascension ; in Greek Holocautoma, that is, whole burnt offerings. This was the first and principal service, in which God was daily worshipped by the whole church of Israel, Numb, xxiii. 8. It derives its name from this circumstance, that the whole sacrifice (the skin excepted) ascended by fire from the altar. A male probably pointing to the seed of the woman, the son to be born to us; and without blemish, or perfect, representing

the perfection of the person and character of the Son of God. The law was at the utmost pains to point forth the lamb of God, without blemish and without spot, who should bear away the sins of the world. Referring to this, the prophet says, • Cursed be the deceiver, who • hath in his dock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a

corrupt thing,' Mal. i. 14. There is an unscriptural manner of speaking about the perfection of Christ's character, which the law of Moses on this head clearly points out. Thus, it is

very common language to say, Christ's obedience to the moral law, which he ful

« PreviousContinue »