Gleanings In Exodus
by A. W. Pink
52. The Continual Burnt Offering
Having considered something of the typical teaching connected with the vestments of the priests as described in Exodus 28, we may observe that the next thing which the Holy Spirit brings before us is the consecration of Aaron and his sons, i.e. the ritual belonging to their induction into that sacred office. This is described at length in Exodus 29, a chapter which is rich in spiritual teaching. As, however, almost all of it is found again in Leviticus 8, we shall defer a detailed study thereof—if the Lord wills—until we come to that book.
The two accounts given of the consecration of the priests is like unto the twofold description which we have of the tabernacle and its furniture: first, we are told what Moses was commanded to make; second, we learn what he actually did make. So with the priesthood: in Exodus we learn that this was a blessing which God proposed to bestow upon His redeemed, whereas in Leviticus (the tabernacle having been set up) we see the execution of His purpose—the activities of the priests there being seen. Moreover, as in the actual making of the tabernacle we read, "According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work" (Ex. 39:42); in like manner we are told that, in connection with the appointing of the priesthood, "So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses" (Lev. 8:36).
In order to link up our articles on Exodus 28 with the present one, which deals with the closing verses of chapter 29, and those which follow on chapter 30, we will give a brief outline of the ceremonies which were to be observed at the consecration of the priests. It is striking to note that there were exactly seven things done for them. First, they were taken "from among the children of Israel" (28:1). How plainly this points to the Father choosing His elect out of Adam’s race—the initial step in connection with their salvation—is too obvious to need any enlarging upon. Second, they were brought unto the door of the tabernacle (29:4): the antitype of this is found in 1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." Third, they were washed (29:4): this foreshadowed the believer’s regeneration and sanctification by the Spirit (see John 3:5, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:26). Fourth, they were clothed with their official vestments (29:4-9): this symbolized the putting on of Christ. Fifth, they were anointed (29:21): this pointed to the gift of the Spirit to the believer (2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:27). Sixth, their hands were filled (29:24)—compare with this 1 John 1:1-3. Seventh, they were sanctified (29:44): this contemplates our setting apart unto God, see Romans 6:13, 22.
It is indeed striking to see that in the above, Aaron and his sons took no active part at all; from first to last they were passive in the hands of another. They did not minister, but were ministered unto. Much was done for them and to them; but they themselves did nothing. Standing in God’s stead, Moses did all for them. It was by his word that they were chosen and brought. It was by his hands they were washed, clothed and anointed. It was Moses also who brought the bullock for the sin-offering, as "the ram of consecration." So too the application of the blood to the several parts of their bodies was the work of Moses (v. 20). So with the wave-offering: Moses arranged its several parts (v. 22): he it was who "filled their hands"—he gave, they received (v. 24). Finally, it was Moses who received back from their hands and gave again to God what they had first been given (v. 25).
There were however four exceptions, striking and blessed ones; four things which God required Aaron and his sons to do. First, they were to "put their hands upon the head of the bullock" of the sin-offering (29:10), thus identifying themselves with the victim that was to be slain. Typically, this is the saints confessing, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). Second, they were to "put their hands on the head of the ram" (v. 15) which was a burnt-offering unto the Lord. This speaks of the believer’s assurance of his acceptance in the Beloved. Third, they also placed their hands upon the head of the ram of consecration (v. 19). This foreshadowed the saints as set apart to and for God, in and by Christ—"For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are set apart" (Heb. 10:14). Fourth, they were to eat the flesh of the ram and the shewbread (vv. 32:33). This set forth Christ as the Food of His people: their substance and life. It is as we contemplate and appropriate Christ without, that He is "formed" within us: see Galatians 2:20; 4:19.
A more direct link between the lengthy account furnished in Exodus 29 of the ceremonies connected with the consecration of the priests and the closing verses which form our present portion, is what is said in vv. 35-37: "And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them. And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin-offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou shalt make an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy; whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy."
The fact that these particular ceremonies and the cleansing of the altar were to be repeated and kept up for seven days denotes that Christ’s people are completely consecrated in Him (Col. 2:10), and that their altar is a perfect one. Both the consecration of the priests and the sanctification of the altar must alike be according to all the requirements of a holy God. "Approach now must be at a cleansed, anointed, and hallowed altar. It is the first time in Scripture that we read of a cleansed and anointed altar. Previously, the altar was according to the measure of the one who approached, but now approach must be cleansed from every feature of human imperfection—cleansed in all the efficacy of the sin-offering" (C. A. Coates). In other words, all acceptable worship now must be "in spirit and in truth."
This is the force of that word of Christ’s, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23, 24). The Savior was referring to that great change which would be brought in consequent upon His death. Though such worship shuts out all that is of the flesh, it makes room for all that is of the Spirit and of Christ.
And of what does this cleansed, anointed and sanctified "altar" speak? Clearly of Christ Himself: His blessed person. As we are told in Hebrews 13:10, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." Christ Himself is altar, sacrifice, and priest. He is "the Altar that sanctifieth the gift" (Matthew 23:19). Hence believers are now told, "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb. 13:15).
From the parallel Scripture in Leviticus 8 we learn that the Lord’s word to Aaron and his sons, in this same connection, was, "Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not." Upon this Mr. Soltau wrote: "They were to be habituated to abide before the Lord; and they were to realize the value of the sin-offering, as thus enabling them so to abide there. The seven days of their week of consecration may, in type, prefigure the whole of our earthly life: our whole week of service. We are to accustom ourselves to be in the presence of our God. Our life is to be spent there; only we have the privilege of abiding, not at the door, but in the very holiest of all. May we rejoice to use this wondrous liberty of access, and not only ‘draw near,’ but ‘abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ And what will be our help and power for this? The sin-offering of atonement, constantly realized by the help of the Holy Spirit."
"Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even" (vv. 38, 39). In v. 42 we learn that this offering was called "a continual burnt-offering." That which was placed upon the altar was in perfect accord with its now anointed and hallowed character. The "burnt" offering is the highest type of sacrifice in Scripture. The first reference to it in the Word helps us ascertain its distinctive significance. In Genesis 22:2 we read that the Lord said unto Abraham, "Take now thy son, thine only Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." That which is to be particularly noted there is the willingness and readiness of Isaac’s conforming to his father’s will. Thus, the central thought in this offering is devotedness. The Hebrew word for burnt-offering literally means, that which "goes up." It might well be designated "the ascending offering." The whole of it, consumed upon the altar, ascended to heaven as a sweet savor.
Leviticus 1 furnishes full details concerning the burnt-offering. There we read, in v. 3, that the offerer should "offer it of his own voluntary will." This offering was really the basis of all the other sacrifices, as may be seen not only from the fact that it is given precedence in Leviticus 1 to 5, but also because the altar itself took its name from this—"the altar of the burnt offering" (Ex. 40:10). It foreshadowed, therefore, the perfect devotedness of the Son to the Father, which was the basis or spring of the whole of His earthly life, ministry, and sacrificial death. He "glorified not Himself." When He spoke or acted it was ever the Father’s honor He sought. He could say, "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." He could say, "I have set the Lord always before Me" (Ps. 16:8). Ephesians 5:2 speaks in the language of this particular type: "Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."
"Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning, and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even." Speaking after the manner of men, it was as though God would keep before Him a constant reminder of the devotedness of His blessed Son. Therefore a "lamb." rather than a bullock or ram (which prefigured Christ more in His strength and sufficiency) was appointed—suitably expressing His gentleness, and yieldedness to the will of God. And, too, that which was ever to be kept before His people also was, that which would set forth the Godward aspect of Christ’s work. Though the Lord Jesus came here to atone for the sins of His people, it was only because it was the Father’s will for Him so to do: cf. Hebrews 10:7 with 10:10.
"Inasmuch as the offering before us was perpetual, God laid a foundation thereby on which Israel could stand and be accepted in all its fragrance and savor. It thus becomes no mean type of the position of the believer, revealing the ground of his acceptance in the Beloved; for just as the sweet savor of the continual burnt-offering ever ascended to God on behalf of Israel, so Christ in all His acceptability is ever before His eyes on behalf of His own. We can therefore say, ‘As He is, so are we in this world’ (1 John 4:17), for we are in the Divine presence in all the savor of His sacrifice, and in all the acceptance of His Person" (Ed. Dennett).
Nor should we lose sight of the practical teaching for our own souls in this morning and evening continual burnt-offering. Suitably has this been expressed by another: "God would encourage us to renew in our affections continually the terms on which He is with us. He would have every day to begin and end with a fresh sense of being with God and having God with us, in the sweet odor and acceptance of Christ, He never places His saints on any other ground before Him than that of Christ—the One who has perfectly glorified Him, and done all His will, and in whom He has infinite delight. He never departs from that; He never meets His saints on other or lower ground than that. And He would have the consciousness of it continually renewed on our side."
"And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin (about 1/2 gallon) of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord" (vv. 40:41). This was the accompaniment of the burnt-offering. The meal-offering is often spoken of as an appendix to it, thus, as "the burnt-offering and its meal-offering" (Lev. 23:13, 18; Numbers 28:28, 31; 29:3, 6, 9, etc.).
The "meat," or better "meal-offering" is described at length in Leviticus 2. It foreshadowed the holy and perfect humanity through which the Son manifested His devotedness to the Father. Mingled with the meal was the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil. This shadowed forth the mystery of the supernatural birth of Christ, under the operation of the Holy Spirit: as said the angel to Mary, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). So, too, the whole of Christ’s earthly life and ministry was permeated by the Holy Spirit. It was by the Spirit He was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil (Matthew 4:1), and from the temptation He "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee" (Luke 4:14). It was by the Spirit He cast out demons (Matthew 12:28). It was through the Spirit that He offered Himself without spot to God (Heb. 9:14). And, even after His resurrection, it was "through the Spirit" He gave commandments unto the apostles (Acts 1:2).
Accompanying the burnt-offering there was also a drink-offering, which consisted of "the fourth part of an hin of wine." One of the significations of "wine," when it is employed emblematically, is joy—see Judges 9:13; Psalm 104:15. Thus, in our present type, the accompanying drink-offering speaks of the Father’s joy in Christ—"This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." But more: it was offered here by the Lord’s people. Therefore it would also express their communion with the joy of God in the perfections and devotion of His Son. God would have us feast on that which delights Him. Beautifully is this brought out in the parable of the prodigal son. When the wanderer had returned in penitence, the Father said, "Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill; and let us eat, and be merry" (Luke 15:23)—figure of the Father and His child rejoicing together in Christ.
Striking are the words, in this connection, of v. 42: "This shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations." Occupation with the devoted Son and His perfect humanity was to be continual, and every morning and evening the types of these were to be presented by Israel to God, accompanied by the fourth part of an hin of wine. Note again the words of v. 41: "And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat-offering of the morning, and according to the drink-offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord." Was not this continuous morning-offering the Lord saying to His people of old, "Rejoice in the Lord alway," and was not the repetition in the evening God’s Old Testament "again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4)!
Gloominess in the Christian is not glorifying unto God. A long-faced believer is no commendation of Christ to those who know Him not. God does not desire His people to be miserable. Did He not move one of His apostles to say, "These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:4)? If the Christian is sad and miserable, the fault is entirely his own. The explanation thereof is furnished in the immediate context of the Scripture last quoted: "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). As this fellowship is experimentally maintained, our joy will be "full." Lack of joy, then, is due to lack of fellowship with God.
And how is this to be remedied? Our present type tells us: begin and end each day with a fresh occupation of the heart with Christ, a concentrated meditation upon His excellencies—His devotedness to the Father, His dying love for us. But accompanying this there must be the "oil": it is only by the help and power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly "consider" Christ (Heb. 3:1 cf. John 16:14). And to the extent that we yield to and are filled with the Spirit, and to that extent only, shall we also be filled with joy—note how the "fourth part of an hin of wine" corresponds exactly to the "fourth part of an hin of oil" (v. 40)! To show that this is no mere coincidence, or unimportant detail, let the reader turn to Numbers 15:6, 7 where he will find that though the quantities of the oil and wine are different, yet their proportions are the same! O that "the joy of the Lord" may be our strength (Neh. 8:10).
"This shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel and they shall be sanctified by My glory" (vv. 42, 43). That which is so unspeakably blessed here is the Lord’s repeated promise that He would meet with His people. The Hebrew word signifies "to meet as by appointment," and this, in the required manner and place.
"Moses was permitted in grace to meet Jehovah at the mercy-seat (Ex. 25:22); but the people could not pass beyond the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. It was here that the burnt-offering was presented on the brazen altar; and hence this was the meeting-place, on the ground of the sacrifice, between God and Israel. There could be no other possible place; just as now Christ forms the only meeting-place between God and the sinner. It is most important to see this truth—especially for those who are unsaved—that apart from Christ there can be no drawing nigh to God. ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me’ (John 14:6). Mark well, moreover, that God cannot be approached except on the ground of the sacrifice of Christ. This is the truth foreshadowed in connection with the burnt-offering. If the cross, Christ crucified, be ignored, no relationships can be had with God, excepting those which may exist between a guilty sinner and a holy Judge. But the moment the sinner is led to take his stand upon ‘the sweet savor’ of the sacrifice of God, upon the efficacy of what Christ accomplished by His death, God can meet with him, in grace and love" (Ed. Dennett).
There is also a spiritual application of the blessed promise of vv. 42, 43 to the saints of God today, considered both singly and collectively. There is such a thing as God "meeting" with us in the manifestation of Himself to our hearts—alas, that so many experience this so infrequently. Where there is true soul-occupation with the person and work of Christ, in the power of the Spirit, there is also a making known of Himself (Luke 24:31). So, when the saints assemble for Divine worship, occupied not with their own needs, but with Christ’s excellency—coming not to obtain a blessing, but to offer to God a sacrifice of praise; there is then such a gracious revelation of Himself that we are made to exclaim: "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Gen. 28:17). O to know more of this blessed experience.
"And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God" (vv. 45, 46). As in the previous verses God repeated His promise to "meet" with His worshipping people, so here He says, twice over, "I will dwell among them."
It was for this that Jehovah had delivered His people from Egypt: He could not "dwell" with them there. Nor could He dwell with Israel at all until they had been redeemed. This was something entirely new. God never "dwelt" with Adam, nor with Abraham. In the Song of Redemption (see Exodus 15:1, 13), Israel exclaimed, "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, the sanctuary" (15:17). To Moses God said, "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8). Now, that promise was to be realized on the ground of the efficacy of the burnt-offering. Most blessed is it to mark God’s purpose in thus dwelling in Israel’s midst—"They shall know that I am the Lord their God." Equally precious is the promise which He has given us: "Lo, I am with you alway, unto the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20); and again, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).
There is no doubt but that, prophetically, our present type looks forward to the second coming of Christ to this earth. Then will it be that "all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Rom. 11:26). And again, "Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" (Zech. 6:12, 13). Then will God say, "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord" (Zech. 2:10). The ultimate fulfillment of our type will be seen on the new earth: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them" (Rev. 21:3).
"But there is more than even dwelling with them: there is also relationship—‘I will be their God.’ It is not, be it remarked, what they shall be to Him, though they were His people by His grace; but what He will be to them. ‘Their God’—words fraught with unspeakable blessings. for when God undertakes to become the God of His people, deigns to enter into relationship with them, He assures them that everything they need, whether for guidance, sustenance, defense, succor, yea, everything, is secure for them by what He is to them as their God. It was in view of the blessing of such a wondrous relationship that the Psalmist exclaims. ‘Happy is that people whose God is the Lord’—Psalm 144:15" (Ed. Dennett). So, too, on the new earth it is said: "And they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3). May the Lord use to His glory these musings upon this blessed type.