The exposition of the Feasts of Jehovah given in the following pages is an exceedingly fresh and helpful one. Such a subject is of very real importance to the Church in a day when the Old Testament is very largely a sealed book. Sealed because, alas! so few approach it in the right spirit.
An Apostle affirms that the things written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Moreover they are the record of historical events; events fraught with typical significance and full of spiritual import.
There can be no doubt whatever that if the Types of the Old Testament were studied in real humility and readiness of mind to see in them pictures of Divine Truth they would be found a mighty weapon of defence against the attacks of Modernism, a weapon whose efficacy it is difficult to overestimate. Further, such study is essential to the right understanding of a great proportion of the New Testament.
This contribution to the unfolding of the types of Leviticus 23 by my beloved friend Mr. A. McD. Redwood is, therefore, most heartily to be welcomed and prayerfully read. The very suggestive exposition of the Firstborn (pp. 19-30), though quite new, is one which merits careful consideration and will, I believe, commend itself to most. Such reading can only result for others, as for myself, in a fuller appreciation of what Dr. Pusey has so beautifully called the hidden harmonies of Holy Writ.
BIBLE TRAINING INSTITUTE,
* * *
In keeping with the prevalent desire for something new characteristic of the age in which we live, there is observable amongst numbers of Christians a hankering for fresh light on almost every thing contained in the Bible. Whilst this may be very laudable if rightly controlled, it is evident that many are being led away by what after all is merely fanciful and sensational. In the attempt to shake themselves free from the rigidly-held interpretations of this or that school, and to bring forth something original, they are in imminent danger of falling into - not truth; but disguised error. The result is confusion and - less light, if not actual darkness.
The author yields to none in his earnest desire to make use of every ray of True Light that may yet come to rest upon the sacred pages of Gods Word, but he is conscious also of the danger alluded to, having watched its workings in different directions, in the foreign mission field and at home. The moving idea that has been uppermost in the writing of these pages, therefore, has been to re-assert (with whatever individuality in spiritual insight one happens to possess) things most surely believed among us, and which form the warp and woof of Christian experience and knowledge.
Whilst the author makes no claim to originality, it is hoped that new lines of thought may be started in the minds of those who will read these pages with care and prayer. Other works on the subject have been consulted, but sparingly followed, except in matters where deviation would be a sign of weakness rather than strength. The presentation has been kept as far as possible out of traditional ruts, so that the experienced student as well as the young initiate may be led to find in this subject a perennial spring of living waters - something to refresh the soul and enliven gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts.
What possibly constitutes the distinctive feature of this presentation of an old subject is the exposition of the threefold classification of the seven Feasts - especially that which has been termed the Christological classification. But even here the sole aim has been to follow the light wherever it lead and not to create imaginative conceits. It is open to any and all those methods of testing truth which mature and spiritual minds understand. If it stands, it will but yield one more proof of the microscopic harmonies and beauties of the Word - equally marvellous as are its telescopic glories.
* * * * * * *
The first edition having been out of print for some time, this re-issue (under a more suitable title) is sent forth with the earnest hope it may still continue to fulfil a useful and perhaps even wider ministry. We thank God for any evidence that this expectation is probably not without reasonable foundation. It is earnestly hoped also that the Old Testament subject presented in these pages, though frequently heard in the addresses of a past generation of Bible lovers, may have a fresh appeal for those of to-day; and that many will be encouraged to go on to study the many other types in the Old Testament, equally wonderful and instructive.
I would wish to express my grateful thanks to my brother, Mr. Walter J. McD. Redwood, for his very helpful cooperation, without which this edition might possibly not have appeared.
May the Lord graciously add His own blessing both to the reading and study of His Word and its unfoldings.
(All New Testament references are to the Revised Version except occasionally.)
SEVEN OLD TESTAMENT FEASTS
The twenty-third chapter of Leviticus is devoted to the subject The Feasts of the LORD. It has been named the chapter of The Sacred Calendar of the History of Redemption. How suitably this title fits the subject we shall see as we study.
This is not the only passage where mention is made of these Feasts, but here they are all brought together by the inspired writer and set before us in an orderly and comprehensive manner. Neither were these the only Feasts that comprised the Sacred Calendar of Israel - others were added after the death of Moses, including several Fasts. But on closer study there appears an evident design, both in the manner of their setting and in their selection. Each Feast had its place and its meaning and from the Godward aspect these seven Feasts, including the weekly Sabbath, complete the Calendar which, as we shall see, represents the whole of Gods dealings with mankind in redemptive grace from the Garden of Eden to the Eternity to come.
As we trace the teaching of each successive Feast we shall find a consecutive foreshadowing of Gods plan of Redemption from the Cross to the [coming millennial and eternal] Glory. To understand their meaning and scope, therefore, is to be furnished with a foreview of the History of Redemption, and thus to have further wonderful evidence of the Omniscience and Omnipotence of our Jehovah God, Who worketh all things according to the purpose of His own will.
This is, indeed, a most wonderful chapter. Its study is of the highest profit to the Bible student. This is indicated in the fact that it involved a special communication from Jehovah to Moses: And Jehovah spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, (concerning) the feasts of Jehovah, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts (vs. 1, 2) and as if to add emphasis to this, Jehovah [Page 2] characterizes these gatherings as My Feasts, and Holy convocations.
1. The Method of Instruction.
The subject before us affords a beautiful example of Gods method of imparting instruction by means of Types and Symbols.* Probably most readers will understand what we mean by a type. For those who are not so well acquainted with this kind of instruction we would explain that a type is a material picture presented to the eye, which embodies in itself divine truth and teachings. The Tabernacle in the wilderness, with its priesthood and offerings, is a conspicuous example of a type, rather of a series of types. It was a material structure composed of wood, gold, silver, etc., and in that respect was no different from any other ancient building. But as a whole, as well as in its several details, we find it embodies a mass of most wonderful teaching respecting Christ and the Christian. Hence we also find typical institutions, typical ceremonies, typical persons, typical offices, typical assemblies, etc.
* 1 Cor. 10: 11.
And yet we must guard against thinking every institution, ceremony, or person, as being a type. To constitute one thing the type of another, something more is wanted than mere resemblance. The former must not only resemble the latter, but must have been designed to resemble the latter. It must have been designed as something preparatory to the latter. It is this previous design and this preordained connection, (together, of course, with the resemblance), which constitute the relation of type and antitype.* This teaching by pictures is characteristic of the Old Testament, and much of it is unintelligible apart from the study of the types, which is termed typology.
* Bishop Marsh, quoted by Dr. P. Fairbairn in his Typology of Scripture.
Closely connected with typology is the study of prophecy. In fact, almost every type may be said to possess something of a prophetical character. The one images or prefigures, while the other foretells coming realities. The one uses representative acts and symbols, the other uses words. Both, therefore, have something of a common nature, though [Page 3] they are distinct methods of imparting truth.*
* Every well-established type is an instance of fulfilled prophecy; and when we view them all combined, we have a congeries of prophecies manifestly fulfilled, and affording an amount of accumulated evidence which must be convincing to any candid mind. - Dr. Edersheim.
This is well illustrated by the study of these Feasts, for in all the necessary features of prophetic evidence, the argument from these is remarkably clear and certain. Their antiquity, their priority in point of time to that which they pointed, is quite unmistakable. They were celebrated by successive generations uninterruptedly for centuries before those facts and events which they foreshadowed were fulfilled. And when we compare the fulfilled antitype with the prophetic type, we find them answer, the one to the other, in a large number and variety of details. It is utterly impossible, therefore, that this agreement should be the result of accident or chance; for the correspondence is altogether too obvious and abundant to be denied. That these Feasts were designed to this divine end, therefore, becomes self-evident.
2. General Characteristics.
It is essential at the start that we get a right idea of what these Feasts were. The A.V. rendering of the Hebrew word conveys a very inadequate idea of the true meaning, and the R.V. (set feasts) - is not much more enlightening. There are two Hebrew words both translated by feast - the one, haj (or hagh), being derived from a verb meaning to dance, or, to be joyous, and applied exclusively to the three festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. But the term that most fitly designated, and that alone actually comprehended all the sacred feasts was moed; and in Lev. 23, this is the term applied to them all - they are the Moadei Yehovah.
The root meaning of the word moed is, to meet by appointment.* Edersheim beautifully suggests the rendering Trystings of Jehovah - and that is just what they were. It is the same word translated tabernacle (or tent) of the congregation.** What was meant by this name, therefore, was the stated solemnities of the people - the occasions fixed by divine appointment for their being called and meeting together in holy fellowship; meeting, that is, for acts and [Page 4] purposes of sacred worship ... They were pre-eminently designed to maintain and promote the people's fellowship with God. It was before Him, not simply with one another, that they were to meet; not in assemblies merely, but in holy assemblies that they were to congregate.
* See meet in Ex. 25: 22. ** E.g., in Ex. 27: 21; 40: 2; etc.
They provided holy opportunities of remembering Jehovah their God, and all the wonderful exhibitions of His mercy and providential care, as Moses so repeatedly enjoined in his closing addresses.* Each separate Feast had its own peculiar significance, they were not merely six repetitions of the first, with a few variations of ceremonial and ritual added. But all together would reveal vividly to their minds Jehovahs love for them, His claims upon them, and their responsibility to respond in reverent worship and grateful obedience. Every Feast was, therefore, a fresh reminder of God their Lord, and a new appeal to heart and conscience.
* See e.g., Deut.5: 15; 7: 18; 8: 18; 9: 7.
The leading characteristics of these trystings were joyousness*; rest from labour**: and the offering of special offerings detailed by God for His worship.
*Deut. 16: 11-15. ** Ex. 12: 16; Lev. 23: 7.
this, there was also the appearing of the male
Jehovah, in the
precincts of the temple at
* Cf. Neh. 8: 10.
In all this we have some very suggestive teaching for believers in their worship of, and service for, God. How blessed to get into the presence of God with that holy joy and peace of conscience that flows from the knowledge of sins forgiven, and
a heart at leisure from itself.
On such occasions we are able to offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise and worship, and bring our baskets of first fruits for His glory.
We may further note the significant recurrence of the numeral seven, throughout the Calendar. There were seven appointed Feasts, and they were all included in the first seven months of the Jewish year. On this Dr. Edersheim very helpfully remarks: The symbolical character which is to be traced in all the institutions of the Old Testament appears also in the arrangement of its festive calendar. Whatever classification of the Festivals may be proposed, one general characteristic pervades the whole. Unquestionably, the number seven marks in Scripture the sacred measurement of time. The Sabbath is the seventh of days; seven weeks after the commencement of the ecclesiastical year is the Feast of Pentecost; the seventh month is more sacred than the rest, its first born, or new moon, being not only devoted to the Lord like those of the other months, but specially celebrated as the Feast of Trumpets, while three other festivals occur within its course - the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and its Octave (Sabbath). Similarly, each seventh year is Sabbatical, and after seven times seven years comes that of Jubilee. Nor is this all. Seven days in the year may be designated as the most festive, since in them alone no servile work was to be done, while on the so-called minor festivals (Moed Katon), that is, on the days following the first of the Passover week, and of that of Tabernacles, the diminution of festive observances and of restrictions on labour marks their less sacred character.
We shall find in all these features, and in the more detailed study of each Feast, much spiritual food for both mind and heart. And we need to remind ourselves that, we are not studying some merely religious antiquities, or ancient rituals, of a past age, long buried and done with, but that which, though admittedly ancient, still speaks spiritually to those who will listen and learn in dependence upon the blessed and enlightening Holy Spirit of God. Let us to the study, therefore, reverently, and with eager desire to follow devoutly, so that we may live out what we learn, and so serve Him Who has loved us and saved us by His precious blood.
* * *
THE MEANING OF THE SABBATH
Our chapter commences by announcing the subject, as we have noted; but instead of proceeding at once with the first Feast it introduces, what might at first be thought a different subject. Verse 3 reads: Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh is the Sabbath of rest (or, a Sabbath of solemn rest, as R. V.), an holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is the Sabbath of (or, unto) Jehovah in all your dwellings.
That this is no interpolation but of design, will be seen as we study. The Sabbath, whilst distinct from, is yet closely related to, the seven Feasts, and bears a special significance in this relation. For one thing, it was a weekly solemnity, whereas the Feasts were annual celebrations. Also it shares with the great Day of Atonement the distinction that all labour was to be suspended; in the other Feasts evidently a greater measure of liberty and activity were enjoyed; though not permitting servile work, which may imply that only the most essential requirements were allowed.*
* See the incident in Luke 13: 14, 16.
It has been pointed out by careful students of Scripture that often the divine end or goal is prophetically presented to faiths vision before it is allowed to see the process by which it is to be accomplished. This verse is an illustration of the principle.
To go back for a moment: historically, and originally, the Sabbath was instituted as a memorial of Gods finished work in Creation, for on the completion of the six days of work He rested from all His labour on the seventh.* It came at the end of the week, after the weekly round and common task were over. According to Gods law, therefore, it was not merely a seventh day, but the seventh day. No other day would have done so well, or at all, in view of the divine purpose which conditioned the divine obligation. The day was intended to point to that purpose. From a merely utilitarian, or even humanitarian, view-point one day was as good as another. But there was more of principle in [Page 7] it than that for it came round in its weekly order to act as a reminder of Gods claims and of His place as Creator. This implied a corresponding responsibility to God on the part of His creatures.
* Gen. 2: 2, 3.
* Deut. 5: 12-15.
serves to remind us vividly that by the entrance of sin into the
newly-made creation, Gods rest was broken. In such catastrophe neither God nor His
creature, man, could rest. Centuries
later, the great Evangelical Prophet, Isaiah, bears solemn testimony to the
age-long truth: There
is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. True indeed; but how true to
this day, in a world war-ridden, bombed and bleeding! Nor did
* Matt. 11: 28. I will bring you rest (New trans.)
Yet, even that does not give the full story of the great purpose of God. The Jewish Sabbath is prophetic of a still future rest; a rest worthy of God Himself, and which He will share with His people. A rest in which even the whole Creation will partake in the coming day of Peace and Glory. It is to this Ultimate, this consummation, that verse 3 points.
Not only so, but in perfect accord with the design and teaching of the whole chapter and its subject, the stages towards that divine goal are registered in each succeeding Feast. There is, therefore, a logical and spiritual relationship between the Sabbath and the Feasts. It carries the thoughts back, first, to the beginning of the Creation, fair as the morn, now foul and fading. Then it lifts the [Page 8] eye of faith to the far horizons of Gods new heavens and new earth, which I will make, which shall remain before Me, saith Jehovah.*
* See lsa. 65: 17; 66: 22; 2 Pet.3: 13; Rev. 21: 1.
This explains the reason for placing the Sabbath at the commencement of the chapter, where it stands as a constant reminder of this final Goal to which all Gods dispensations are fast hastening.
This is supported, further, by the other reference to the Sabbath; i.e., to the Eighth Day of Assembly immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles, which closed the Annual Cycle.* John the apostle, writing in the early Christian era, calls it the Great Day of the Feast.** Even at that date it was specially characterized as a day of great rejoicing (see later chapter on the Feast). This Feast was thus marked off by commencing and ending on the Sabbath, the last one being specially distinguished from all other weekly Sabbaths, because of what it in particular (the others also in a lesser degree) pointed forward to. Baron mentions how, even to this day in their mizmorim, or hymns sung in every pious Jewish home on Friday evenings, at the ushering in of the Sabbath, there are touching references to the glorious future time when, under Messiahs sway the earth shall find rest, and to the blessed Day which shall be all Sabbath.
* See Lev. 23: 36, 39; Num. 29: 35. ** John 7: 37, 38.
As we pass from one Feast to the next, we leave increasingly behind us the Old, and draw increasingly closer to the New. Just here the teaching of the epistle to the Hebrews (chs. 3 and 4) fits in precisely. For these chapters remind us of our present responsibilities and privileges to keep going on towards the Goal in view. The constant danger to-day is to seek our rest here and now, or to fail to seek at all. There is a present rest for conscience and heart; of this we have already spoken. Christ gives [an eternal] rest from the plague and burden of sin; then we find [promises of a millennial] rest as we take His yoke and walk with Him and learn of Him.* But finally, there remaineth a Sabbath rest (lit. a sabbalism, or sabbath-keeping) for the people of God.** Writing thus to the [redeemed] Hebrews, the apostle warns against slipping into an evil heart of unbelief: of falling away from the living God; of becoming hardened by the [Page 9] deceitfulness of sin; of drifting away from the things we have heard,*** the things that matter most, and by so doing, should seem to have come short of that promised [millennial (2 Pet. 3: 8)] rest. Let us ponder carefully and prayerfully these weighty words - whatever our profession of Christianity may be. To the mere professor they appeal with the greatest earnestness: make quite sure you are not resting on good works, and punctilious observance of religious formulas or formalism [for initial salvation]. Christ alone can save; His blood alone can cleanse and give the guilty conscience peace. Here alone is true [God-given and eternal] rest.
* Matt. 11: 29, 30. **Heb. 4: 9 (R.V.). *** Heb. 2: 1-3 (R.V.)
On the other hand, if you are already in possession of this so great salvation,* then press on unto perfection.* Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience - the solemn example of those who perished in the wilderness.** What a blessed and effective source of encouragement and help in time of need does the apostle proceed to shew us in the final verses of that chapter 4!*** It is all centred and available in the one Person, the Son of God, the Jesus of the Gospels, our present Great High Priest.
[* Note. The So great salvation, in this context, does not refer to the salvation we presently possess through faith in Christ Jesus. Ed.]
* Heb. 6: 1 (R.V.) ** See Heb. 4: 11, and 3: 16-19. *** Read specially verses 14-16. (R.V.)
But we cannot close this subject without making special note of the new day of rest, which in this dispensation of grace is the First Day of the week, the Lords Day, the day set aside with peculiar care and distinctiveness for the Church to-day.
Jewish Sabbath is essentially connected with the old marred creation, with the
imperfect Mosaic dispensation, and with the mere typical redemption from
It has been well said : With His resurrection [Page 10] seventh-day Sabbath of the old creation expired, transmitting its sanctity and its privileges to the new Sabbath - the first day, which became our day of rest in the power of a new creation ... How necessarily, therefore, must the seventh-day Sabbath, resign its claims to that new day on which the Head and Representative and Forerunner of the redeemed rose to take the Headship of the new creation of God.
In the types of
* See Col. 2: 11.
In these, and
other instances, the eighth day is singled out for special honour. It was thus
honoured in type, because it was to be honoured by the great fact of the
resurrection of our Substitute. That
marked it especially as the day of result - a day that, following on
and springing out of the series of days that had preceded,
embodied in itself and made manifest
the consequences of the agencies that had in those days operated. In relation to the past, it was an eighth
day; in relation to that which was to succeed, a first day. But it could
not have been that which it was as the first day, except it had been, as the
eighth day, connected with the days that had preceded. What would resurrection have brought to us if
there had not been previous redemption? (
* * *
THE SUBJECT CONSIDERED
These seven Festal gatherings can be viewed from at least three similar though different standpoints:
The Practical (or Experimental),
which we proceed to note briefly.
1. The Prophetical Aspect‑. - Prophecy bears a twofold character, it is, first, a forthtelling - a revelation of the mind and heart and will of God. It is, secondly, a fore-telling - a prediction of the purposes and plans of God in regard to man in general and redemption in particular. These Feasts are both a forth-telling and a fore-telling.
The mention of the Sabbath, as already described, first takes us back to the creation. That work of God was characterized by perfection in design and accomplishment. Adam was innocent in knowledge and character. On the seventh day God could rest, having pronounced all His work as good. Then comes the catastrophe of sin, which not only marred the whole of the work, but set up a rival Kingdom under the tyranny of a Usurper.
The Old Testament is taken up with the revelation of the activity of God in a world of sin - an activity which is designed to restore man to Himself, and creation to its rightful Sovereign. Both by type and by prophecy Gods plans and purposes are made known, whilst the history traces out their development in succeeding ages.* It is not, as modern teachers assert, man seeking for God - it is the history of God seeking for man.
* For when God bound up the future of all nations in the history of Abraham, and his seed He made that history prophetic, and each event and every rite became, as it were, a bud, destined to open in blossom and ripen into fruit on that tree under the shadow of which all nations were to be gathered. - Dr. Edersheim.
The Feasts of Jehovah are but one series of the host of prophecies relating to this activity of God. They reveal, firstly, the purpose of God to restore; to bring man back from sin to holiness, which is a positive quality, a condition [Page 12] of character far different to mere innocence; and to give rest to creation instead of present bondage.
Secondly, as to the method of
fulfilment of that purpose, they predict the plan: (1) It
is through Messiah, who should be both Saviour and Lord. (2) It is to involve a three-fold objective -
the calling out of a redeemed People, the Church
the firstborn]; the eventual redemption of a chosen Nation
Thirdly, the process is a gradual one: gradual in its unveiling, for the types and shadows of the Old Testament come first, and then the clear statements and doctrines of the New Testament; gradual also in its accomplishment - the steps are in centuries and millenniums. In fact, at times it would almost seem as if progress had been arrested (note, for example, the significant interlude between the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Trumpets). We are assured, however, it is not so, for at the set time the Feast of Trumpets comes round, and is rapidly followed by the remaining two, which close the cycle.
2. The Typical Aspect. - Here again the typical teaching is in two parallel lines, first, in relation to Christ, second, in relation to the Christian.
First, in relation to Christ, every Feast speaks either of the Person or the work of Christ, or both. (1) Regarding His Person - we shall find foreshadowings of His unique position (in all things pre-eminent); of His perfect obedience to His Fathers will; of His absolute sinless character. (2). Regarding His Work - we shall find Him effecting redemption; making possible a new relationship of love, intimacy and fellowship with His people; consummating all His plans and reigning over a new earth.
Second, in relation to the Christian, these Feasts successively typify the believer as a Redeemed Sinner, a Resurrected Saint, a Righteous Citizen, a Responsible Servant, a Co-Regent of the Lord of Glory (heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ).
3. The Experimental (or Practical) Application. - Every Feast has a present practical application for daily life.
First, they prefigure most wonderfully, (i) Gods Requirements - Righteousness of life and Holiness of character; corresponding with which we also get, (2) Gods Provision - [Page 13] Redemption and Sanctification. Hence, the provision answers to the requirement, and we are left without excuse for a carnal life.
Second, we are made aware of, (1) Mans Response - evidenced by man accepting the provision made by God; and even more wonderful, (2) Mans Participation - the capacity and ability of actually enjoying, now, the blessings and privileges of fellowship with God - [and for daily help and strength to overcome the world, flesh and devil].
Such, in bare outline, are some of the main lines of instruction. As we study we shall find how these lines open out and increase in clarity.
Let it be noted, that all this teaching is without any appeal to the fancy or imagination. There is no straining of the text or twisting of the interpretation - the spiritual mind and heart have no use for such methods.
With our New Testament in hand, and seeking the Holy Spirits help, we need make no mere guesses at truth. Having experienced ourselves the transforming power of Christs redemption we can understand the application and interpretation by following our Teacher the Holy Spirit.
We shall close this chapter with a tabulated Synopsis of all the Feasts. The reader is urged to study the Synopsis by referring to it frequently whilst reading the text. It greatly helps to visualise the whole subject, and to retain it in the memory.
* * *
THE SUBJECT CONSIDERED
By Synthetic we mean the consideration of the Feasts as a whole, and in their relationship to each other. For this purpose the reader will find it helpful to refer to the Synopsis given on page 14, and to note the typical meaning of each Feast as given in the second column. This, of course, rather anticipates what we shall go into more fully when we come to consider each Feast individually, but for the present it is necessary and must suffice.
Do not make the mistake of imagining that in studying these groupings of the Feasts, we are merely indulging a certain critical sense of method or analysis, as if examining a series of ancient specimens. Far otherwise! The relation these seven Feasts bear to each other, the order of their development, and the various classifications into which they naturally fall, are not abitrary or mechanical, nor merely of academic interest. On the contrary, these classifications are part of the spiritual teaching which the whole subject is intended to convey. We are not studying, as it were, a necklace of beautiful pearls loosely strung together by a mere thread, rather, we are to be guided by the help of the Holy Spirit in looking into a body of truth, in the Word of God. No part of this body is inconsequential.
There is precision in the description of it; there is beauty in its very design; there is purpose and intention in the co-ordination of its varied members as there is also in their individual characteristics. The truth it teaches is possessed of divine power and life, and full of excellent profit for the soul.
The relationship between the Feasts is seen from the manner in which they are classed together. The chapter in Leviticus will indicate two of the three ways of classifying them, but we shall need to look elsewhere for the third classification. How these classifications are arrived at we shall now consider under the following three heads:
1. The Dispensational Classification and Relationship.
This classification is obtained by a study of the Synopsis [Page 16] already given. This study will reveal two things, (1) that the Sabbath stands alone; (2) that the first four Feasts have had a fulfilment in the past and the present, whilst the remaining three (viz., Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles) point to future events (viz., the Second Advent, the Judgment Seat of Christ, Millennial Glory). All these will receive fuller treatment later - we give but the barest hints here. A further point which goes to emphasize this division will be found in verse 24, which indicates the significant fact that a considerable interval - something like three and a half months - elapsed between the fourth (which is a fulfilled Feast) and the fifth (which is still unfulfilled).
As already stated, we need first to discover the underlying purpose of each classification. It is this which really gives it meaning, and sheds light upon the whole study.
A. To emphasize, firstly, the DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER of each of the two sets of Feasts - i.e., the first four on the one hand, and the remaining three on the other. Let us compare these two sets:
The 1st set speak of Privileges and Responsibilities belonging, to the present, all of which are based on past facts. The Passover tells of Redemption accomplished by the death of Christ. That is past. Based upon this fact believers are to walk in righteousness and sanctification. This is present. The Feast of Firstfruits tells of Resurrection accomplished - Christ rose triumphant out of death. That is past. Based upon this fact believers are now taken out from among the spiritually dead and brought into a new relationship - they are members of His Body the Church. This implies a holy, yet blessed, responsibility to maintain the unity of the Body. This is present. So much for the first set.
The 2nd set speak of Privileges and Responsibilities belonging to the future which are all based upon present facts. If we are going to take any part in the Rapture of the Saints we must know Redemption by experience. If we are to be rewarded for service (the Bema of Christ is only for [regenerate] believers), we must have carried out our responsibilities whilst on earth. So that this set is consummative, whilst the first is preparative.
Again, the 1st set have in view more especially a heavenly people, the Church, i.e., the whole company of [regenerate] believers everywhere.
the 2nd set have both the Church and the earthly nation,
B. The second purpose of this division is to emphasize the SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INTERVAL that divides the fourth from the fifth Feast. This interval represents the present Dispensation - the period in which God is calling out a people for Himself, baptizing them into one body, the Church, by the Holy Spirit* and preparing this Church for the day when He shall come into the air and rapture it away to Himself** - hence the name Dispensational Classification. This interval may now close at any moment.
* 1 Cor. 12 . 13. ** 1 Thess. 4: 13-18.
2. The Doctrinal Classification and Relationship.
We have in the book of Leviticus a formula which occurs repeatedly: And the Lord spake unto Moses saying. This formula serves to mark off divisions either between one subject and another, or between one part and another part of the same subject, and carries with it a divine emphasis distinguishing between things that are intended to be kept together, and things that are to be considered apart. Its intention is not to separate radically, but to distinguish between this and that. This formula opens the chapter (verse 1), and thereafter occurs four times (vs. 9, 23, 26, 33); and the chapter closes with a complimentary formula (verse 44), which also occurs in varying forms in other parts of the book. This formula, therefore, indicates our second classification, and careful note should be made of which Feasts it brings together and which it distinguishes between.
The purpose in view seems to be TO CLASS TOGETHER CERTAIN FEASTS THAT HAVE A VERY SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER. We have called it, therefore, a doctrinal classification. It must be remembered, of course, that every Feast has a direct relationship to the others - not one can be left out without disturbing the whole picture. But, those which are joined together by this formula are peculiarly related and doctrinally inter-dependent.
Look briefly at the verses:
A. The first and second occurrences of the formula include within their embrace the Sabbath, the Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vs. 2-8). We have already (in chapter 2) indicated that the Sabbath is to be viewed both as the starting point and the goal of the series its [Page 18] meaning is rest, at present broken by sin, but one day to be fully realized. We have likewise indicated that each Feast is a step onwards towards the goal; and the Passover and the Unleavened Bread are the first two steps. Note that both have to do with the subject of sin, though in different ways, and both focus attention on the individual person, the [regenerate] believer.
The first speaks of the Man Christ Jesus redeeming from sin - thus dealing with the root cause of all the disaster in the universe, purging it away; whilst the second speaks of the [regenerate] believer having been cleansed, now walking by the power of that cleansing in the path of righteousness. These are the two cardinal principles and experiences of all true Christianity. They constitute the new life of the [regenerate] believer. When we come to consider these two Feasts separately we shall enlarge upon this, but this is the doctrinal teaching in germ.
B. The next division includes verses 10-21. (Note Verse 22 may be taken as parenthetic for the present). This division contains the two Feasts of Firstfruits and Weeks (sometimes called Pentecost). These are the third and fourth steps of the new life. In contrast to the first two, these have to do with harvest. Further, we move from the individual to the Body. The Firstfruits speaks of Christ raised [out] from among the dead. The Feast of Weeks speaks not only of the individual believer raised likewise, but of a body of believers, of whom Christ is the Head, raised up from among, raised out of, a spiritually dead society.
Thus, in the first division, we get sin purged; in the second we get new life bestowed. In the first, we are made personally holy; in the second, we are made to enjoy fellowship in the Body, united to the risen Head, even Christ. Here we see Gods own order - first the personal life regenerated and fitted to walk in fellowship with God; then the full realization and enjoyment of fellowship in the Body, with fellow-believers. The unit and the unity are equally and distinctively the objects of Gods tender care and love, and both are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So that in each division the second Feast is dependent upon and arises out of the first Feast - there is a definite doctrinal connection which can hardly be missed.
C. The subsequent occurrences of our formula divide off the three remaining Feasts both from the first four and from [Page 19] each other, so that they are distinguished though not actually separated. As we examine the meaning of each Feast we see how appropriate this is; for whilst we can see there is a chronological relationship, of necessity, which nothing can do away with, there is not all that close doctrinal connection we find in the previous ones; yet it is not absent.
We must also observe that, whilst it is distinctively the purpose of the New Testament to impart a knowledge of the doctrines of our faith, the Old Testament manifests its unity with the New by revealing an exact correspondence wherever and whenever doctrine is illustrated or typified. No O.T. type will be found ever to contradict any fundamental teaching of the N.T. On the contrary, the one often illustrates what the other elucidates.
3. The Christological Classification and Relationship.
In studying this division of the Feasts the reader is specially encouraged to read the following three passages carefully beforehand: Ex. 23: 14-19; 34: 18, 22-24; and Deut. 16: 16, 17. By so doing the exposition can be followed with greater ease and intelligence.
That these three passages do have a reference to the Feasts of Jehovah as set out in Lev. 23, there can be no doubt whatever. Though many writers on the subject pay no attention to these passages, careful study of them has convinced us that they constitute a very definite classification and embody some very beautiful hints of spiritual teaching. The reader is asked, therefore, to follow us in our exposition as the Lord enables us to see His message.
To begin with, having read the passages, we may note three general observations first:
(a). This classification divides the Feasts into three divisions, and each division is entitled respectively (Feast of Unleavened Bread, (2) Feast of Weeks, and (3) Feast of Tabernacles.
(b). All the males (probably the first-born) appeared before Jehovah on the three occasions named. That is, in each of these divisions of the Feasts a gathering of all the (first-born) males took place before Jehovah. There is also the additional direction that they were not to appear empty-handed; and the promise mentioned in Ex. 34: 24.
(c)Finally, the threefold division is emphasized by the fact that the first division was separated from the second by an [Page 20] interval of time, and the second from the third similarly, the latter interval being longer.
But our main objective is to enquire into the purpose of this classification; in this way we shall arrive at the correct understanding of its teaching. We shall seek to demonstrate that the main purpose is to EMPHASIZE, THE RESULTS AND EFFECTS OF CHRIST'S REDEMPTIVE WORK. That emphasis runs along two parallel lines:
(1). The Results and Effects of Christs Redemptive Work are exhibited (by type of course) in the individual Christian; then in the body of Christians, the Church; then in the whole creation (no doubt particularly referring to the Nation of Israel).
(2). Then how Christs obedience in accomplishing the work He came to do has placed Him in a position of personal exaltation, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. God has been pleased to set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but in that which is to come.*
* Eph. 1: 20, 21.
We now proceed to demonstrate how these two lines of thought are to be found in our classification.
A. Our first business will be to glance once again briefly at the peculiar significance of the three distinctive Feasts which serve to identify the three respective divisions. This will reveal the first purpose of this classification, - see (1) above.
Division 1 - Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Note its character - a seven-day Feast that really commenced with the Passover and included the Feast of First-fruits. We have seen that in the previous classification the Passover and Unleavened Bread were doctrinally connected and now we have the Firstfruits added. The teaching is practically identical with what we have had in that connection, except that this coupling takes us a little in advance. In this grouping of the three closely-related Feasts we are taught that, not only are we saved individually (Passover) but we henceforth must walk in sanctification and righteousness primarily as individuals (Unleavened Bread), energized by Resurrection power (Firstfruits). The Christian walk is first an individual, and then a corporate matter. For it is [Page 21] the walk of the unit that really determines the walk of the community. Also that this is possible because based upon Redemption and carried out in the power of the Resurrection life.* The walk is really the daily life of the spiritual man. Hence the inclusive, name chosen to mark off this division is that of Unleavened Bread.
Division 2 - Feast of Weeks.
This Feast stands by itself in this division and for the reason that the whole emphasis is on the teaching concerning the Body, the Church. The results of Christs atoning work are not only to be exhibited in the individual, but in the formation of an organically-united company, or body, of believers. How this is connected with the second line of thought as stated in (2) above we shall see a little further on.
Division 3 - Feast of Tabernacles.
This was an eight-day Feast, occurring after the ingathering of the corn and the wine, beginning and ending with a Sabbath. We have already seen that it is related chronologically with the two previous Feasts (of Trumpets and Atonement), for it took place in the same month. This classification groups these three Feasts under the name of the last because it stands as the fitting conclusion of all three and even of all previous ones. Also the significance is identical with what we have already noted concerning it - it typifies the consummation of all the purposes of God in reference to the individual, the Church. the Nation and the whole nation.
Thus past Redemption, present Preparation, and future Realization are brought together, all emphatically as the
glorious result of Christs atoning work.
B. The second purpose of this classification is brought out as we
consider the special feature connected with these three leading Feasts, viz.,
that at each of them the males in
What, then, may we learn from these features?
In the first place, it would seem there is an, intended prophetic reference to Christ Himself, and particularly in reference to that place of glory He now occupies, and will occupy more manifestly in the coming day, as The Firstborn. This particular title is applied to Christ five times in the New Testament and once in the Old; it will prove most helpful if the references are turned up and carefully read before proceeding.* The title has a special significance, being intended to exhibit Christs relation to His creation in general, and to redeemed man in particular; also His position of dignity and superiority in regard to them.
* Col. 1: 15; 1: 18; Rom. 8: 29; Heb. 1: 6; Rev. 1: 5; Psalm 89: 27. The contexts should also be noted.
Not that it in any manner classes Him with His creatures or creation, or ranks Him as one with them even in precedence, as if He shared something of their creature-hood. He is in a category altogether alone and unique. He cannot be classified. He is God eternally existent, and un-originated.
But, in view of the Incarnation and what followed it, there is made possible a very definite and real relationship with His redeemed and regenerated creatures, who, in Scripture language are made partakers of His holiness, and partakers of the divine nature.*
* Heb. 12: 10; 2 Pet. 1: 4.
before the Incarnation, terms are used when referring to
It is this particular aspect of the title we are now considering. We shall see that, whilst most clearly preserving the distinction between the Creator, as such, and His creatures, the term does contain the threefold idea of Relationship, Representation and Pre-eminence. And the point before us in particular is, that this appearing of Israel before Jehovah thrice yearly is a prophetic prefigurement of Christ in His character of Firstborn among many brethren, and of His Pre-eminence in the Universe He created.*
* The reader will find some very helpful exposition of the title Firstborn in a little booklet Christ the Firstborn, by W. E. VINE, M.A. [See also Firstborn Sons by G. H. LANG.]
Note carefully the following sequence of thought:
Every male child in
It was not that the one sex were of any greater consideration in Gods sight than the other. Nor could it possibly have been any idea of degrees of worship between the sexes; or that one sex was possessed of greater sanctity than the other. It seems indubitably certain that, whatever other likely suggestion remains, the idea of representation is the most reasonable and accurate - i.e., the males (more than probably, the firstborn) appeared as representative of the whole chosen Nation.
next point to note is how
* Matt. 2: 14, 15.
Again, recall the passage above quoted,* Thus saith
* Ex. 4: 22.
more illustration of this close relation between [Page 24] Christ and the Nation may be noted before passing on.
In Gen. 12: 7 (also 17: 7, 8) we get Gods covenant promise to Abraham
to give him a land, which should
become the perpetual possession of his seed. Who is the seed? In Psa.
105: 8-12 (as well as in other passages), it is applied to the nation of
links are not due to chance, but are designed.
That these titles or epithets
are first of all applicable to the nation of
(3). That principle being established, we may safely proceed a step further and find (as already stated) in this particular episode of Israel appearing before Jehovah thrice yearly, a prefigurement of Christs present and future -
1. Relationship to the redeemed ... as the FIRSTBORN.
2. Representation of the redeemed ... as the FIRSTBORN.
3. Pre-eminence among the redeemed and in the whole universe as the FIRSTBORN.
That is, Christ
the Firstborn, as He is related to (1) individual believers; (2) the
In order to make this a little clearer let us briefly look again at the three divisions made by this classification. (The Chart at the end of the chapter will also help the study).
In Division 1 the emphasis is on Christ and the believer individually. Now there is one passage among others which fittingly describes the thought we are now following out: It became Him (Christ) ... in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through [Page 25] sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.* That passage indicates Christs relationship, to [sanctified] believers as a result of His redemptive work. He is Leader; they are brethren all of one.
* Heb. 2: 10, 11.
Couple this now with another passage: Whom (God) did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that, (note the words) He might be the Firstborn among many brethren.* In these two passages we have,-
* Rom. 8: 29.
first, - Relationship (many sons, brethren)
second, - Representation (Captain or Leader)
third, - Pre-eminence (Firstborn) - Christ pre-eminent in time, place, order and dignity.
Here we see Christ appearing before God now in relation to His brethren, as representative of those brethren, and taking the pre-eminence among them as Firstborn among many - just as in the past the firstborn of Israel appeared before Jehovah at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as bearing a relationship with the whole nation, and as representative of the many brethren of that nation. No doubt the final and complete fulfilment of this awaits the coming [millennial] day, when the many sons, each bearing truly the image of the Pre-eminent Son, will be gathered around Him unto glory, when He will be able to say, Behold, I and the children which God hath given Me.
In Division 2, Feast of Weeks, the emphasis is on Christ and the Church [of the firstborn] as a whole. Turning to Hebrews 12: 23 we read of the assembly of the firstborn ones registered in the heavens - which seems distinctly to refer to the Church [of the firstborn], as being composed of those called out from among the dead in trespasses and sins* that they should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures** - a position into which, having willed it, HE begat us by the Word of Truth.
* Eph. 2: 1. ** Cf. James 1: 18.
Now when this is read in conjunction with a verse in Colossians*, we see immediately the three-fold relationship of Christ the Firstborn to those who share the same title of dignity with Him: He (Christ) is the Head of the Body, the Church [i.e., the called out]: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. [Page 26] Ellicott translates the latter portion as the Firstborn ... that in all things He might become the FIRST.
* Col. 1: 18.
we have Christ appearing before God now as
related to the company of firstborn ones, corporately, as representative Head of that Body, and
as taking the FIRST place in the
Body [of firstborn sons]
- just as in the past the firstborn of
In Division 3, Feast of Tabernacles, the emphasis is on Christ in His exaltation to universal dominion in Millennial Glory. Under this aspect we need to bring together two passages in the New Testament in order to get the exact thought we desire to convey. The first reads thus: (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation.* The second reads: And when He again bringeth in the Firstborn into the world He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.**
* Col. 1: 15, (R.V.) ** Heb. 1: 6 (R.V.)
It is impossible of course to go thoroughly into the exegesis of these two wonderful passages. It must suffice to take out of each the one point necessary for our immediate purpose, and see how far it sheds light upon the thought we are considering.
begin with, we must be prepared to release the emphasis from the ideas of
relationship and representation we have so far been able to include, and place
it all the more upon that of pre-eminence. We
need also to re-emphasize the prophetic character of the Christological classification. That is, we need to remind ourselves that
Now the two New Testament passages above seem to confirm just that thought; viz., that the place of Universal Rulership belongs to Christ both on the principle of primogeniture, and by right of conquest. The first passage indicates (among other truths) the unique position the Son [Page 27] of God occupies in reference to Creation. He is the Pre-existent First Cause. He created all things, by Him all things consist and subsist. He upholds all things by the Word of His power. He is altogether Pre-eminent in majesty, power and glory, above and distinct from all intelligences of whatever category.
But the thought implied in the phrase Firstborn of all creation needs to be further considered in the setting given it in Heb. 2: 8-10, where we find this Son of God as having been made a little lower than the angels because of the suffering of death, that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man. Sin had come in to usurp the throne, and to defeat sin He submitted to the curse and death of the Cross. Now, however, He is crowned with glory and honour, although for the time being it still remains true that we see not yet all things put under Him. But the day is speedily coming when it shall be made manifest that, God also hath highly exalted Him, and hath given Him the Name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth - [i.e., in Hades the place of the dead (Matt. 16: 18; Luke 16: 23, 30. R.V.] - and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.*
* Phil. 2: 9-11.
It is to that day that Heb. 1: 6 refers.* Not only as Firstborn of all creation (that is, by right of primogeniture) but as the Victor over sin and death and hell [Hades], He is to be accorded the place of universal dominion, and openly inducted (see footnote**) to His rightful [(1) millennial and (2) eternal] inheritance. Probably it is to this same event that Ps. 89: 27 alludes: I also will make Him My Firstborn the highest of the kings of the earth. He will then be revealed from heaven with the angels of His power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God ... when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed.***
* Cf. Ps. 2: 8.
** The R.V. rendering and sense is upheld by Alford and other eminent authorities. Alford also renders the phrase bringeth in by introduced and inducted and gives it the sense putting in possession of, as of an inheritance, citing several O.T. passages to show that its usage is closely connected with the future restoration of Israel to their promised land. So that the sentence may well mean: When He hath inducted the Firstborn into the world (of His inheritance) etc.
*** 2 Thess. 1: 8-10.
view of the recognised typical and prophetic teaching of the Feast of
Tabernacles itself (as we shall further see when we come to it), may we not justifiably find some prophetic anticipation of
all the above in the yearly appearance of
Thus we get, even if nothing more than as a mere hint, the wonderful relationships and glorious pre-eminence of Christ as ordained by the Father. And all in direct consequence of Christs redemptive work relative to the individual believer, the Church, and even the whole creation.
would go further and suggest that Ex. 34: 23, 24 might
indirectly (its primary application is of course to
Christs ultimate victory over all His enemies - I will cast out the nations before thee;
His universal dominion - and enlarge thy borders;
His undisputed possession - neither shall any desire thy land when thou shalt go up to appear before Jehovah thy God thrice in the year.
For these reasons we have called this classification the Christological one, and though what we have set out may be more in the nature of possibility, we believe that it is not altogether without foundation.
Since writing the above we have been studying the eight miracles (or rather, Signs, as the word should be more correctly) in Johns Gospel. These miracles, as is well-known, are designed (as stated in the first one) to unfold something of the power and glory of Christ as the Son of God. They have, therefore, to begin with, the same objective and purpose as the Feasts. The latter adumbrate, the former demonstrate, the glory of His Person and Work in a wonderful manner. And the careful student of the Word will be gripped with a new interest in these miracles when he finds, [Page 29] as first pointed out by Dr. Hutchinson of Edinburgh in his very suggestive commentary,* how one classification of them (there are more than one of course) fixes the attention upon exactly, or nearly, the same leading ideas as have been indicated above, in connection with the Christological Classification of the Feasts.** This we had not noticed before, but since doing so we have found renewed cause for delight in the harmony of the Divine Word.
* Our Lords Signs in St. Johns Gospel, by John Hutehinson, D.D. Now out of print probably.
** Dr. Hutchinson deals only with the Signs of course, and has no thought of the Feasts.
The particular classification of the eight Signs alluded to, after placing the Inaugural or first Sign and the Supplemental or last Sign by themselves, divides the remaining into three pairs:
(1). The first pair (the healing of the noblemans son and the healing of the impotent man) depict, in the words of Dr. Hutchinson, our Lords glory in His Kingdom in relation to the individual soul. The first Sign illustrates the result of faith, the second shows the possibility of walking in newness of life.
(2). The second pair (the feeding of the five thousand and the walking on the sea of Galilee) depict His glory in His Kingdom in relation to His Church on earth. The first of the pair depicts Christ as the living Bread given for the sustenance of His people, and through them (that is, through the Church as the (human channel) for the famishing multitudes who will partake. The second Sign is intended to reveal His constant personal protection and watchfulness over His Church amid the battling elements of contrary winds and raging waters.
(3). The third pair (the healing of the man born blind and the raising of Lazarus) depict His glory in His kingdom in relation to the world. In the first He is seen as the light of the world lying in darkness, and in the second as the Life of men once dead in the corruption of sin. Or, in other words, He is revealed as the One who in the coming day will dispel forever the darkness and death into which sin has plunged the world, and in resurrection glory give us the true liberty of the sons of God - there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
Such is the eagerest outline of a beautiful picture, and we [Page 30] leave it to the student to take up the comparison between this picture and what we have already seen in the last classification of the Feasts (though without forcing details beyond their admittedly limited boundaries). It is impossible, it seems to us, to escape the very suggestive harmony between what superficially appear to be entirely dissimilar subjects; the one a series of convocations prescribed in an age-long remote, and under a law now set aside as fulfilled in Christ, and the other a set of carefully chosen Signs or exhibitions of divine power, enacted by the Lord Himself in the days of His flesh - the two meeting in Him.
* * *
THE SUBJECT CONSIDERED
We now turn to the study of the individual Feasts, of which the first is
Regarding the Passover we shall note the following points
1. Its Inauguration.
The history of Gods redemptive plans begins here - the fact of SIN, which hinders fellowship between God and man, must be dealt with.
The first mention of this Feast is in Exodus 12, and in conformity with the Law of First Mention it is dealt with very comprehensively, at the same time leaving room for certain additions that it took on later.
After this first mention the Passover is referred to in six other chapters in the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy), but two only need concern us here, viz., Lev. 23, in which passage the Feast is placed in its theological order at the head of the other seven Great Feasts; and Num. 28: 16, where it is mentioned in its chronological order with the other daily and monthly sacrifices and offerings. The reference in Deut. 16: 1-7 is also very interesting, and will be touched on later - it should be carefully compared in detail with the directions for the observance of the Feast in Ex. 12.
2. Its Relationship has already been touched on. Although the Synopsis (on p. 14) shows the Sabbath placed last, it should be remembered that it also comes first, as previously described.
3. Its History so far as
recorded in the Scriptures is very, interesting to trace. After its inauguration we have six other historical references and
one prophetical. The latter
is found in Ezek.
45: 21-24 and refers to the time when Ezekiels
The seven recorded celebrations of the Passover are as follows:
(1). Exod. 12. - Institution. The People brought out of Egyptian bondage.
(2). Num. 9: 1-14 - In the wilderness, in the 2nd year of the journeyings.
(3). Josh. 5: 10-11. - Entering the Land after the 38 years wanderings.
(4). 2 Chron. .30: 15-22. - Revival under Hezekiah.
(5). 2 Chron. 35: 1-19, also 2 Kings 23: 21-23 - Revival under Josiah.
(6). Ezra 6:
19-21. - Revival under Ezra after the Return from
(7). Matt. 26: 19. - Christ (in anticipation of the crucifixion) introduces
the Supper that supersedes the Passover.
Whether, historically, these were the only occasions it was celebrated we are not told; more probably it was frequently if not regularly kept. Slight allusions seem to suggest this; e.g., Solomon offered sacrifices three times a year, at the appointed seasons, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread - which latter would include the Passover.* Later prophets speak of appointed seasons for pilgrimages and sacrifices (as Isaiah refers to in ch. 1: 12-14), and possibly an occasional reference to a Passover (e.g., Isa. 30: 29 - bearing in mind that the Passover was the only night-feast of which we have any record). The pilgrimages would no doubt refer to the three Festivals which required the presence of all males before the Sanctuary thrice annually (see later).
* See 2 Chron. 8: 13; 1 Kings 9: 25.
The recorded occurrences listed above will repay the students most careful study. There are spiritual lessons to be found in each separate incident, as well as in the comparison to be made between them. One prominent lesson emerges even from a cursory comparison - when there was departure from God the Passover was allowed to lapse, when there was a coming back to God and a revival of heart the Passover was given its proper place with great rejoicings.
This same feature is also found in many other ways. e.g., when the Temple worship was neglected, the peoples freewill offerings for the maintenance of the sanctuary were reduced; where there was a revived concern for the things of God, the offerings abounded in degree and quality.*
* E.g., cf. Ex. 36: 1-7; Mal. 1: 8, 10, 13 (R.V.); and 2 Chron. 31: 4-10.
4. Its Typical Teaching. The central truth conveyed in the Passover is Christ our Redemption (1 Cor. 5: 7). Whatever other lessons we may draw from it that is paramount.
type bears a two-fold aspect with this central truth as a pivot, viz., (a)
Christ our Redemption appropriated once in one great personal act of faith, by
which act the sinner passes from Death unto Life, from Condemnation unto
Salvation and Justification. This aspect
is that typified in Exodus
12, where the Passover is presented to us
as the initial act on the part of the Israelites in their Redemption out of
(b) The second line of teaching reveals the Passover in all its subsequent celebrations as a Memorial Feast of that great act of Redemption, which was to be kept yearly. This aspect is particularly dwelt on in Deut. 16: 1-7 (see specially verse 3). Here also we get Christ our Redemption appropriated, not merely in one act, but continuously in and as a never-ending Feast.
Lords Supper, provided by the Great Head of the Church for His people in this
Dispensation, is truly a Memorial Feast, taking our thoughts back to
We shall next consider these two aspects in a little more detail.
(1) THE PASSOVER AS AN ACT OF REDEMPTION (Exodus 12).
The teaching under this head is wonderfully rich, and will provide not only food for the soul but seed for the sower. Space only allows us to choose out a few prominent, points from amongst the rest.
Let us note first,
however, a more general preliminary point - that the history of redemption has
not only a beginning, but also a prelude. The
prelude to the typical redemption from
* See Gen. 15: 13, 14, and the whole chapter. Also ch. 17: 1-8. ** Psa. 105: 42, 43.
Similarly, the redemption of which the Passover is a type, has its own prelude. Sin introduced into the world by the great Adversary, Satan; the Fall which brought man to hopeless ruin and misery; and, blessed be God! the great Covenant of Grace and the eternal counsels of peace and salvation to man from God the Father before the foundation of the world.* But of the prelude, and the consummation in the ages to come of Gods great redemption scheme, the Bible gives us only glimpses, being taken up, as it is, mostly with the record, both prophetic and historic, of its process.
* Eph. 1: 3-11; 1 Pet. 1: 19, 20.
(a) The first lesson is the Sovereignty of the Lawgiver in dealing with those who have broken His laws. Sin implies broken law, and the inexorable word has gone forth from the Lawgiver: the soul that sinneth it shall die. If the breaker of law is to be saved, therefore, the means of deliverance can only come from one source, and that is from the Lawgiver Himself. To be efficient and sufficient the plan must uphold both the sovereignty of the Lawgiver and the sanctity of His Law. This the Passover does, and is the eternal affirmation that no other method than the method it typifies will God recognise.
We must distinguish between sovereignty and caprice or even arbitrariness. The basis of Gods sovereignty rests not merely upon the eternal fact of His creatorship, but upon the eternal principles of absolute justice and holiness on the one hand, and mercy and grace on the other. Consequently, He can never be swayed by any motives of mere caprice or [Page 36] whimsical arbitrariness which might be thought to exist because He is the Almighty Creator - that He can do what He likes just because He possesses all power. In the method of dealing with sin which He has laid down, He has not only been true to Himself - His own absolute Being - but has vindicated the eternal principles of His Law, except for which the Universe would cease to hold anything that could be called moral - all would be a nightmare of darkness, and chaos.
The Passover does not, therefore, place an arbitrary division between Egyptians and Israelites. It illustrates Gods sovereign method of dealing with sin. For, as a matter of fact, it is impossible to think of the Israelites as being any better morally than the Egyptians. All had sinned. But it was as freely open for the Egyptian to make use of the method of safety from judgment as it was for the Israelite. They preferred, however, their own method - and suffered in consequence. At the same time any Israelite would have suffered if he had essayed to act independently. There was only one method - the method of the Sovereign Lawgiver against whose eternal Law both Hebrew and Egyptian had erred. And before God could take up this nation to become a channel of blessing to the whole earth, the question of sin must be dealt with - by His alone method and, as we shall see later, that method was by sacrifice, the death of a divinely appointed Victim.
(b) The second lesson is the necessity of a personal appropriation of that which is provided.* All action centred around the lamb - beautiful type of the Lamb of God which beareth away the sin of the world. This lamb was to be without blemish - thus safeguarding the holy character of the antitype. Note the three significant acts of appropriation:
* The teaching here will be found to correspond doctrinally in certain points with our Lords discourse recorded in John 6: 51-58; the reader will find it profitable to trace the parallels.
(1) Verse 2. They shall take every man a lamb. - Here we are directed to the life of Christ, for faith cometh by hearing of Him who is now alive. Doubtless, of course, there is, in the command that the lamb should be kept up from the tenth to the fourteenth day, a reference to the three and a half years of the public ministry of our Lord, during which He lived that unique life before God and man which [Page 37] proved Him to be the ho1y, harmless and undefiled Lamb of God.
But the practical point we are looking at now is, the illustration it provides of the necessity of coming into personal touch with a living Saviour who can and is willing to save. The first cry of a sinner must be directed to a living Christ, not to a dead crucifix - although a further appropriation of Christ is essential ere he can be saved (which is found in the next act prescribed). Whilst the life of Christ alone cannot save, there is in that life as lived down here a quality which the sinner needs to apprehend for himself - that quality which assures him that this Jesus is the very Saviour whom God has appointed and who is able to save to the uttermost.
Verse 5 carries the thought further: Here is the very kind of a Saviour we need; your lamb shall be without blemish. A man enveloped in a raging fire cannot save his fellow-man perishing by his side. We need a sinless Saviour; there was only One ever such, the Son of God, whose whole life and nature were so utterly and transparently holy that of Him the Father could exclaim: in WHOM I am well pleased! So may sinner and saint find in this same Jesus, the Lamb of God, perfect satisfaction as Sin-bearer; for His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree ... by Whose stripes we are healed.*
* 1 Pet. 2: 24.
(2) Verse 7. They shall take of the blood. Here we are made aware of the only means of safety, the death of the victim - not merely its life. When I see the blood I will pass over you.* The blood here stands for blood shed, that is, death. The blood of Jesus Christ (Gods) Son cleanseth us from all sin. This is because death meant atonement (covering) from sin.
*Verse 13; see also very specially Lev. 17: 11; 14; Heb. 9: 22.
The blood was the ground of their safety and peace. And this remains. eternally true. The sinners safety is not found in anything connected with himself - his life, his works, or his conscience - but in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As one has well said: It is the blood of Christ which gives peace, imparts perfect justification, divine righteousness, purges the conscience, brings us into the holiest of all, justifies God in receiving the believing sinner, and constitutes our title to all the joys, the dignities, and the glories of heaven.
pause here and note one important point: the death of the sacrifice is of no
avail to anyone until it has been definitely appropriated by an act of
faith. The death of the paschal lamb
alone could not have saved
(3) Verse 8. They shall eat of the flesh. This is only possible after the means of safety has been appropriated, and points to our duty and privilege of communion and participation in and with Christ, without which we could never sustain the life imparted. Herein lies the secret of many a failure in the Christian life. Many are seemingly satisfied with the safety from wrath to come provided by Christ, but know little of feeding upon Christ. But the type indicates something very different. Here we may quote from Mr. Lowes book,* where he says The whole of the paschal lamb was eaten; not one particle of it was to be left; they were expressly commanded to consume it all.
* The Annual Festivals of the Jews, by J. B. Lowe, B.A.
It is thus the Saviour gives Himself altogether to be His peoples food; it is not a part, but the whole of a precious Christ that is provided for us. All the holiness of His life, all the devotedness of His death, all the efficacy of His blood, all the power of His resurrection, the dignity of His ascension, the influence of His intercession, and the glory of His coming again; everything He does, He has, He is, the whole is given unto us to feast upon; and we need it all. I cannot spare a single particle of this provision - not the smallest fibre. - I must have Him all to meet the exigency of my case, the necessities of my soul. I apprehend, my brethren, that if we know anything of Jesus, as we ought to know, we shall be anxious to know all about Him; we shall find the whole that God has written needful to satisfy the cravings of our soul, needful to compensate the exhaustion of a trying pilgrimage.
We cannot pause long enough to go into all the details of this feasting, yet each detail full of instruction. Verses 8 to 11 will repay minute study. In verse 11 we are [Page 39] reminded of our pilgrim character and habit, as those who have been separated unto God (see 1 Pet. 2: 11).
(c) The next lesson is that which concerns the fact of substitution.
Note the difference between the death of the guilty person for his own sin, and the sacrifice of the substitute for the saved sinners sin. The first is legal punishment which satisfies Law but does not save. The second not only satisfies Law - the law of the Sovereignty of God - but saves and clears the guilty. Christs sacrifice as our substitute not merely covers the sin (which was the only thing the Old Testament offering could do), but brings the sinner into a new relationship with God on the grounds of Justification - treating the saved sinner as if he had never sinned.
Herein is found the uniqueness of Gods method of dealing with sin - it preserves His own holy and righteous character inviolate, whilst He becomes the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus (Rom. 3: 25, 26).
But in order to enjoy the real truth of substitution we must look at it in the right light. The Passover does not, of course, emphasize the fact of substitution in the same way as the sin-offering or the ritual of the day of Atonement. The Passover directs attention to the need of sacrifice, and especially of our appropriation of that sacrifice. At the same time it does contain the thought of substitution to some extent. Had the lamb not been slain, the death sentence must needs be carried out. The lamb became, therefore, a substitute - but only on condition of appropriation, that is, by an act of faith. This point is important, for Scripture nowhere speaks of or implies that the substitutionary aspect of the death of Christ is applicable to the sinner apart from active faith. Christ died for all, whether saved or unsaved. He died instead of those alone who accept him in saving faith. They are reckoned as dead.
therefore, has for its heart the idea of identification. This is where the sin-offering comes in, for
the offerer was to lay his hand upon the victim and so identify himself with
it, after which the victims death was accepted as his own. When thus
identified with the sacrifice of
(d) The fourth lesson is no less obvious, though often overlooked - the certainly of judgment upon all who refuse the way of deliverance. Note that this is not so much the refusal of safety as the refusal of the particular means to safety. The need of safety from wrath to come is often recognized by those who are religiously inclined to-day - the point is that people will not accept the means of safety provided by God, but are madly busy going about, to establish their own righteousness. Yet upon all such the judgment of the Lawgiver must rest - were it otherwise He were not God.
There are many other beautiful typical teachings in this subject, though it is not our purpose to go into all the details, but rather to concentrate upon a few of the principal ones. It is a very precious foreshadowing of the glorious person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to recognize two lines of teaching: that first which reveals to us the Redeemer and His work in all the marvellous perfection of His glory, and then, the manner in which the type applies to the needs of sinner and saint.
Not only in place but in importance it is a unique Feast.
It was a sacrifice, and yet quite out of the order of all Levitical sacrifices. For it had been instituted and observed before the Levitical sacrifices existed: before the Law was given, nay, before the Covenant was ratified by blood ... It may be said to have been the very basis and foundation of all the later sacrifices of the Law, and of the Covenant itself. Lastly, it belonged neither to one nor to another class of sacrifices; it was neither exactly a sin offering nor a peace offering, but combined them both. And yet in many respects it quite differed from them.
In short, just as the priesthood of Christ was a real Old Testament priesthood, yet not after the order of Aaron, but after the earlier, prophetic and regal order of Melchizedek, so the sacrifice also of Christ was a real O.T. sacrifice, yet not after the order of Levitical sacrifices, but after that of the earlier prophetic Passover sacrifice, by which Israel had become a royal nation.
(2) THE PASSOVER AS A MEMORIAL FEAST. That this aspect is foreshadowed even at its inauguration seems clear: This day shall be unto you for a memorial and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah; throughout your generations ye [Page 41] shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.* It is plain that it was to be kept in perpetuity, as a recurring reminder, for all succeeding generations. It was, for this reason, named by the Jews the Perpetual Passover, in distinction from the Egyptian Passover.
* Ex. 12: 14; 13: 3, 8; Dent. 6: 20-25.
As already stated (see page 33) the references to it as a memorial are few, but these few are spiritually instructive. Before turning to two or three of these we must first note, because of its primary, importance, the more general analogy or illustration it provides in regard to the ordinance of the Church to-day, the Lords Supper. It is significant, to begin with, that the Lord Himself should have chosen to institute the Supper on the very night of the Passover in which He suffered. But He was on the point of fulfilling all the typical import of the First Passover in laying down His life sacrificially for our redemption from sin. It was the occasion most suitable, therefore, for inaugurating the New Memorial of that redemption for He was making provision for a NEW People, later called His Body. The Church - of which HE is HEAD. So that two significant changes were effected in the old Sabbath and the old Memorial Feast; the one was substituted for the First Day, the Lords Day; the other for the New Feast, the Lords Supper. It is important to see a distinction, however; the New are not a continuation of the Old; there is no doctrinal or functional interrelation. Instead, there is rather, a break with the old legal, priestly ceremony and ritual belonging to both Sabbath and Feast; followed by a far more definitely spiritual meaning and usage in both.
For one thing, which is of utmost emphasis, in both the new Day and the new Supper, the LORDSHIP of Christ, the Source and Dispenser of all the blessings and privileges they together envisage, is clearly taught. Both are His; both speak of Him; both are for the purpose of making us pause deliberately from the busy, clamant preoccupations of daily life, and to turn our whole attention to HIM - in holy Worship and grateful adoration. He is (reverently we say) ours, every day; He claims US for Himself in some particular sense in the Lords Supper on the Lords Day.*
* This does not imply, of course, that the Day is doctrinally or essentially related to the Supper, or the Supper to the Day. But it is the usual (and apostolic) custom to partake of the Supper on the First Day.
In the Lords Supper we, as individual believers in corporate union, gather to Him, to commune with Him, to give Him our hearts holiest worship, adoration, praise and thanksgiving. For this high exercise of redeemed souls there is the immediate help and grace of the ever-present Holy Spirit. This is entirely true and sufficient apart from all forms and fashions of sacerdotalism. Any earthly priest or ritual has no place here. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which He dedicated for us ... and having a High Priest over the house of God - let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith ...* As believer-priests, in possession of the full rights of a heavenly character, of a blessed relation of union in one Body, of a Divine invitation let us draw near. The very symbols of the bread and the wine serve to remind us, as they are intended, of Him who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; whose blood was poured out to make atonement for our sin. His own gracious appeal to all His saints was, Do this in remembrance of me; His apostles inspired comment is for as oft as ye eat this bread and drink the cup ye proclaim the Lords death, till He come.**
* Heb. 10: 19-22. **1 Cor, 11: 25-26.
(a) In the chapter we are studying (Levit. 23), it may seem strange why so little is said about the Feast. But full directions had already been given; here it was sufficient to place the Feast in its correct order, as in Num. 28: 16, with the addition of its spiritual relation with the Sabbath (as we have noted). This we believe is the divine purpose to show the means by which Gods rest is to be restored to a sin-stricken creation, beginning, with redemption. There is without doubt a further reason, again spiritual: viz., to reveal to the Spirit-taught mind what the death of Christ, as the antitype of the Passover, is to Jehovah. A quite unique phrase is used in verse 5 to fix attention on this - it is Jehovahs Passover. We cannot recollect it being elsewhere so named; and that it should be named just in this particular context, devoid of all the usual attendant features of the Feast, helps to bring into prominent relief the one point - this is Jehovahs; here is the type (the basis of all other sacrifices, as we have seen), of what the death of Christ is to God, as the foundation upon which all His gracious thoughts [page 43] of and for a redeemed earth and a new heaven are built. The death of His Son as a sacrifice for Sin meets all His claims, satisfies all His heart In Him I am well pleased, He could say. It sets forth that aspect of Christs death, which is Jehovahs alone, in which none of His people share; just as the wave-sheaf sets forth the aspect of His resurrection, which also is His alone. Who could know the value of this death so well as He? Who understood what suffering it meant to the Son so well as He? Yet God delighted in it for all it meant to Him the Father, and for all its unutterable, glorious results. So does the believer, in the Lords Supper, feed upon the worthiness and excellencies of His Lord; but not the least of all his gratitude and worship will be that which is drawn out by the contemplation of what the death, resurrection, and glorious exaltation of the Son is to God the Father.
The Gospel of John significantly confirms this reading of our passage. One of the characteristics of the Gospel is the phrase the Jews; five times in reference to feasts, three of them to the Passover as a Feast of the Jews, or the Passover of the Jews.* By this usage there can be little doubt the apostle was revealing what might not appear to the outward eve: the degeneration which these annual festivals had undergone into mere national institutions devoid of all spiritual meaning. This Feast, with the rest, had become the Passover of the Jews, and was no longer Jehovahs.
* See John 2: 13; 5: 1; 6: 4; 7: 2; 11: 55. There are well over fifty occurrences of the term the Jews. In most of the passages in which we meet with the Jews, we must understand the party possessed of the greatest influence in the nation, the representatives of Judaism, the leaders in opposition to Jesus. Even where the term is used in a wider sense, it does not simply designate the nation; when employed by the Evangelist himself, it almost always bears with it the impress of one thought - that of general unfaithfulness, of a national depravation which culminated in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The Evangelist is writing of that with which he has entirely broken, and is characterizing the ordinary religion of his day as one that consisted in ceremonies and external purifications. - Gospel of John, by Milligan and Moulton.
So does the sacred lesson run for us to read and meditate upon. How easily possible it is, as ever, to maintain the outward performance of even the Lords Supper, with never sensing of its inward meaning. We are still prone to be content with the externals bereft of all spiritual reality. May our hearts be sustained in closest touch with the living [Page 43] Lord, from whom alone we derive life and true experience of the spiritual.
(b) Numbers 9: 1 -14
records the first celebration outside
But the further incident in this passage is also instructive. Verses 6-9 record that certain men were unable to keep the Feast at the proper time in the first month, owing to ceremonial defilement. Jehovah is seen acting in grace, for in spite of all the Laws normal judicial rigidity, they were not shut out completely. After submission to the prescribed ritual of purification they were permitted to celebrate the Little Passover, in the second month instead of the first. The only detail that is mentioned is the requirement to keep the Feast with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Here then we have both contrast and, comparison, from which we draw the spiritual lessons of this first (recorded) wilderness Passover: The first, the difference in procedure before celebration. In Exodus 12 we see typically the sinner entirely dependent upon the death of the lamb and the shelter of its blood. There is no other means of escaping, from judgment; no acts of purification, no ceremonial [Page 45] washings are called for: When I see the BLOOD I will pass over you. But now, it is a redeemed people that partake. And yet, though in that position legally, there needs to be care, for there is danger of defilement by the way. In case, however, this may happen God graciously provides for restoration. Incidentally, we might mention (for the readers personal study) the subsequent ordinance of the red heifer,* which was later brought in for this very contingency - see Numb. 19. (The New Testament teaching of this ordinance is found in Hebrews 9: 12-14). So that there is first the necessity of celebrating the Feast, yet only by those who are ceremonially clean. This is further borne out by a study of all the subsequent historical celebrations. Every recorded Passover was preceded by various ceremonial preparations of purification.*
[* See The Red Heifer by D. M. Panton. ] * See the passages already given.
The lesson for the [regenerate] believer
to-day is evident. True he does not partake
of the Lords Supper on the same basis it is not in his own worthiness but in
the all-prevailing worthiness of the Saviour Christ alone
which gives him the right to
partake. Nevertheless, the
significance of the type points to the necessity for a right condition of heart
and conscience. Hence the apostle, let a man examine
himself, and so let him eat of the bread and
drink of the cup. This calls for
self-judgment and a growing appreciation of the meaning of the Supper. This was what was so sadly lacking in the
Directions for keeping the Feast in the
* Ex. 12: 8-11.
But the conspicuous difference is the manner and place of killing the sacrifice and of the subsequent feasting upon it. Thrice over the phrase in the place which Jehovah shall choose to place His name there (vs. 2, 6, 7) occurs, whilst in verse 5 is the positive prohibition against this being done within any of thy gates (i.e., households - see also v. 7b). They were to sacrifice and partake in the Divinely chosen gathering point.
The spiritual teaching is twofold, first the necessity of sustaining a lively remembrance of [the future] how great salvation Christ has effected on our behalf, and how great was our need morally and spiritually when He [initially] saved us. The call to remember is a characteristic of the book of Deuteronomy, occurring at least ten or eleven times. The subsequent, generations proved by bitterest and tragic experience the disastrous results of forgetfulness.* The same is true to-day in many thousands of (Christian) lives.
* Ps. 78: 11; Jer. 2: 32; Isa. 17: 10.
But two things would serve to keep the memory fresh and spiritually vigorous; first, that which is typified by the roasted flesh and the unleavened bread - it is Christ in death and in life that forms the spiritual food required to nourish the redeemed soul, the affections, and the mind of the believer. John records that hard saying of Jesus (ch. 6: 53, ff.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have not life in yourselves.* The Lord explains this as meaning that, exactly as He Himself nourished His soul by daily, fellowship with the Father, so we receive and strengthen our spiritual life by [Page 47] feeding by faith oil Christ. This phrase refers to our individual and personal experience of the Saviour.
[* Read The Personal Indwelling of the Holt Spirit, by G. H. LANG.]
The second thing to note is the gathering together of those who own Him as Lord. This is surely the corporate fellowship and communion expressed when His members meet to remember Him and proclaim His death. This aspect has been referred to above; but it bears a further brief note because of its quite special importance to-day. What needs emphasising is what is implied by the threefold repetition of the phrase noted: We get (1) the gathering together in common assembly worship, as uniquely expressed in the Lords Supper. In the Supper the bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ - not His personal body, but THE Body of which He is Head. Thus we express our fellowship with other members of the Christian Church. This is a collective thought, and refers only to occasions when we come together in the church.* (2) The rallying Object (the Person - He is never the Subject) Who bears the NAME: speaking of the Nature, Dignity, and Authority of Him Who bears it. (3) The Divine will expressed in the Divine choosing of the place, where is My Name.
* 1 Cor. 10: 16-17; 11: 18-26.
Here we get the only effective conditions for powerful witness and fruitful blessing in corporate experience - in so far as we submit to them and do not act in self-will. For where two or three are gathered together in MY NAME, there am I in the midst. Hence, let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works ; not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the custom of some is; but exhorting one another and so much the more as ye see the Day drawing nigh.**
* Heb. 10: 24, 25. [* 2 Pet. 3: 8.]
* * *
THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
The narrative contained in Exodus 13: 1-16 takes a leap into the future. Looking through and beyond a forty years stretch of sorrowful history, Moses gives directions concerning the Land. Among the first instructions is that which concerns the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
It was one of the seven-day Feasts, and, as already shown in the Synopsis, typified a new Character and Walk in Righteousness and Sanctification. The number seven denotes a perfect cycle of days the week of life - hence it stands for the span of Christian life and testimony during the present time.
It was to commence immediately after the killing of the Passover lamb. The literal reading of Lev. 23: 5 is between the two evenings (see verse 32 also). That is, the Passover was killed either after sun-down the first evening or before sun-down the second evening - in all probability the latter (see Dent. 16: 6). From a careful comparison of all the references it would appear certain that the lamb slain as a sacrifice in the Passover, became the food that introduced the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So that the latter Feast flowed out of the former without any break.
How beautifully this sets forth the New Testament teaching is evident. If we think for a moment we shall recognize three things about the Passover:
(1) It was a Redemptive act - a means of [eternal] salvation provided by God. Those who accepted the means were, safe from the Destroyer.
(2) It was a Divisive act - it separated the obedient from the disobedient - the people of
(3) It was an Inaugurative
act - it thenceforth placed
* See, e.g., Ex. 19: 5, 6 ; Deut. 7: 6-8.
Christs work upon the Cross had effected the same results [Page 49] - by it we are redeemed from sin to God; by it we are separated (literally, sanctified) from the world; by it we are introduced into a new life of fellowship and communion with Him who is both Saviour and Lord. So that the Feast of Unleavened Bread comes in at the exact point to teach that this new life, is not to be spasmodic or interrupted; but to be complete and whole - a continuous walk with God, as Enoch walked of old. It commences with an act of faith in Redemption accomplished, it continues as a process of living in communion.
Notice the following further points:
1. The Feast is Related to -
(a) The Passover (as already shown).
(b) The four fulfilled Feasts (see Dispensational Classification on page 16).
(c) The three special groups mentioned in Dent. 16: 16, 17, etc. (see Christological Classification on page 19).
2. It was peculiarly a Feast not of the Wilderness but of the Land. The main difference, typically, between these two spheres is that, the former is indicative of those passing phases of the Christian life, which are only of value in the measure they are accepted as disciplinary and educative, leading to something higher and more stable; whilst the latter is the present normal level of spiritual experience - what in Ephesians is called the heavenlies or heavenly places in Christ. The walk typified by the Feast of Unleavened Bread is, therefore, to be lived out on that level, in that sphere so fully dealt with in Ephesians. It is the spiritual in contradistinction to the carnal (the wilderness phase).
3. Note its accompaniments. Numbers 28: 16-25 comes in here to help us. Before considering it, however, look first at the main characteristic, from which the Feast receives its name.
(a) No Leaven permitted. This was a prevailing feature in the majority of Jewish feasts and offerings. It would seem to have had its beginnings in these two primary and connected Feasts - the Passover and Unleavened Bread - and the people learnt to observe it with scrupulous attention.
The following interesting sidelight is from the pen of the late David Baron: In this admonition the Apostle refers* [Page 50] most probably to the custom of bedikath chometz - the ceremony of searching for the leaven, which is known to have existed in the time of Christ, and which still exists among the Jews in all lands of their dispersion.
* i.e., in 1 Cor. 5: 6-8.
I well remember the interest with which as a boy I used to follow about my father on the evening before the 14th of Nisan, as with lighted wax candle in hand, after uttering the prayer, Blessed art thou Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by thy commandments and commanded us to remove the leaven, he proceeded to search all likely and unlikely places all over the house for leaven, picking up a few crumbs of bread which had been purposely dropped here and there before, and gathering the whole into a large wooden spoon, and tying it together ready for the ceremonial burning before noon next day, ending the whole by uttering the formula in the Chaldaic language, All the leaven in my possession, that which I have seen, and that which I have not seen, be it null, be it accounted as the dust of the earth,
many references in Scripture to leaven, particularly its use being forbidden in
the ritual of the Tabernacle (and
* Jer. 17: 9-10.
The meaning of leaven is even more clearly asserted in the New Testament, with but one problematical (?) exception - which, for our immediate purpose we do not need to consider. We may turn, for example, to the threefold warning the Lord utters in reference to those forms of evil (moral and doctrinal) exemplified by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians.
In Luke 12: 1, we read of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. A mere outward profession of religion, a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, characteristic of the ritualism and formalism of the present day.* In Matt. 16: 11 the Lord warns us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, which is their doctrine. The Sadducees were the great rationalists of their day (Acts 23: 8) - and we have their successors among us still. ** In Mark 8: 15 there is mentioned the leaven of the Herodians or Herod. It consisted of a spirit of compromise, selfish expediency, opportunism, and worldliness. It has not ceased to leaven the whole lump. Each of these forms have their distinctions, but they share in common the one distinction of being just like the truth, yet are not of the truth. Their similarity to it is all the more dangerous. And how apposite the dictum that True wisdom is not manifested in trying to see resemblances in things which differ, but in discerning the real difference among those which resemble one another.
* It is against this the Apostle warns the Galatians (ch. 5 : 9).
** On false teaching relative to Resurrection, see 2 Tim. 2: 18: see also Col. 2: 8
But the locus classicus of the New Testament spiritual application of the Feast is 1 Cor. 5: 6-8. Very briefly let us put down the primary points only
(1) Christ our Passover also hath been sacrificed for us - this we have dwelt upon already in the previous Feast. It is the accomplished fact of Redemption; hence (2) even as ye are unleavened - the fact of an experienced Renewal.* (2) Wherefore let us keep the Feast; etc. i.e. of Unleavened Bread. And how shall we keep it? By walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;** that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.*** (4) Moreover, purge out the old leaven that ye may be (in practice and experience) a new lump (such as Christ [Page 53] as made you), - seeing that ye have put off the old man, with his doings, and have put on the new man, which is being renewed (daily - by the [indwelling] Holy Spirit) unto knowledge, after the image of Him (Christ) that created him, (the new man).****
* See Titus 3: 5. ** Rom. 8: 3-9 (R.V.). *** Rom. 6: 4 (R.V.). **** Col. 3: 9-10 (R.V.)
Such in brief, is the meaning for us of this Feast. The old leaven is to be purged out - from our individual lives and from the corporate life of an Assembly,* if we are to know the blessedness of the life of victory, over sin. We are, to put on Christ. 1 Peter 1: 15, 16 reveals to us both the model and the motive of a truly sanctified life: As He is holy so be ye holy - that is our Model: Be ye holy, for I Am HOLY - that is our Motive. As ... So ... For - any sanctification less than that Model and that Motive is tarnished. It is not merely to believe in the judicial state of sanctification, which is common to all believers, but to walk in a progressive and ever-widening experience of daily sanctification, even as He walked. That this kind of a walk is possible at all is made sure by the fact stated in the reference - as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy. He has called us to this walk, and He never calls to anything unless He enables also. This enablement is contained in the very next clause because it is written, Be ye holy; for I Am HOLY. Think of it! I Am HOLY! In that phrase is contained all the resources of the Godhead the motive and the measure of His enablement. Hence the Apostle says elsewhere, we are partakers of His holiness.** And again, we are partakers of the divine nature.*** Let us therefore walk in newness of life.****
[* 1 Cor. 5: 9-12.] ** Heb. 12: 10. *** 2 Pet. 1: 4. *** Heb. 12: 10. **** Rom. 6: 4.
(b) How this is made possible for the believer is the teaching of Num. 28 given above. Three special offerings, beyond the similar daily offerings, were to accompany this Feast on each of the seven days of its duration. The first was the Burnt Offering (verse 19) - which always speaks of Christs perfect obedience and absolute delight in doing the Fathers will I delight to do Thy will, 0 My God, Thy law is within My heart.
The next was the Meal Offering, which reveals the perfect and sinless character of Christ in Himself, He had done no violence neither was deceit in His mouth. It is because of this that the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand.
The third was the Sin Offering (verse 22), for it is inevitable if we are to become; participators of His holiness that He must become our propitiatory sacrifice and cleanse us from all sin.
Now this order is not merely chronological, it is, for the believer (the one who has started the life of Unleavened Bread feasting) both moral and theological. In this order we are called upon to feast daily on the Living Bread. In his approach to God the sinner reverses the order, he first apprehends Christ as his Sin offering. But the believer, once he enters into the fulness of the Christian walk, learns to feed upon Christ as He appears before, God in all His perfection. He learns to delight first, in the perfect satisfaction of the Father towards the Son. He finds increasing joy in the perfect holiness of His Representative. He is made to experience, in ever-widening measure the wonderful efficacy of the Sin Offering.
In Exodus 23: 14, 15 we get a third significant accompaniment - the people
were not to appear before Jehovah empty-handed. This
takes us to the consecration of the priests in Exod. 29: 24. Both references imply the
yielding up of all to Jehovah, the response of a thankful heart for which so
much had been done. How great the lessons here!
* * *
THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
(a) VIEWED TOGETHER WITIT FEAST OF WEEKS
In taking these two Feasts together first we need to remind ourselves of what has already been pointed out that together they form the second pair of the seven, and are related to the first pair by being dependent upon them. Further, in these two pairs of Feasts the first members of each pair refer their teaching to Christ, whilst the second members refer to the believer and the church. A reference to previous chapters will make this clear.
Looking at the two Feasts, let us note four points of comparison and contrast:
1. Both were to be celebrated in the land of Canaan, in fact, they could not have been celebrated outside of it.
The teaching implied has already been referred to under the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And remembering that both feasts are harvest festivals, implying resurrection, we have here the thought that like as Christ was raised up [out] from among the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6: 4) - which is resurrection life. But such a walk is only possible in the land - which, as seen before, is spoken of in the New Testament as in the heavenlies. Whether for the church or the individual believer the land is the proper sphere of the Christian life and walk.
2. Again both Feasts are connected with the ingathering of the harvest. But the first (the Feast of Firstfruits) differed from the second in being held at the commencement of the barley harvest - which ripened before any of the other grain; whilst the second was held at the end of the harvest season when both the barley and the wheat had been gathered in, seven Sabbaths (fifty days) intervening between the two.
There is another harvest field for the first ripe fruit of which the Lord of the harvest had long been waiting - a harvest of which Christ is the first-fruits and the [Page 55] whole redeemed family, all they that are Christs [at His coming],* perfected in resurrection glory at His coming, shall be the fulness.
[* The words whole and all above, must be understood as limited not to include all in the strictest sense of the word, but only those: accounted worthy to obtain that world [age], and the resurrection [out] from the dead: (Luke 20: 35, Gk.). See also, Luke 14: 14; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 4-6. cf. Luke 22: 28-30; Rev. 2: 10; 3: 21; 6: 9-11, etc.]
3. The third point to note is the contrast between the kinds of offerings presented before Jehovah. Let us look at first one, then the other.
(a) In the Feast of Firstfruits the main offering consisted of a sheaf (an omer) of newly-cut barley - the grain in the ear, un-baken and untouched (as it were) by hand. It was be waved before Jehovah, to be accepted for you. The beautiful fresh grain was there as a result of death, and exemplifies for us Christs own words spoken centuries later: Verily, Verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.* So death had to pass upon Him if He was to be able to take that glorious title, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.** How very wonderfully that Sheaf of Firstfruits pointed onwards to the day of Christs glorious Resurrection! It was both type and prophecy, that He should be the First that should rise [out] from the dead.***
* John 12: 24. ** Col. 1: 18; *** Acts 26: 23 (the R.V. is probably more correct, but still embodies the thought of priority in resurrection).
(b) The main offering in the Feast of Weeks consisted of two wave loaves, made of fine flour and baked. They were also called a Firstfruits unto Jehovah, though the two words are somewhat different in the Hebrew. When applied to the Church the appropriateness of the type is immediately apparent - for that one body is now to know no distinction between Jew and Gentile and yet is composed of both.* And the Churchs oneness with her risen Head is at least hinted at in the fine flour used - an ingredient, in fact the main one, in every meal-offering, which stands as a a type of that Holy One in whose spirit there is no guile. This Church, holy and spotless, is the very one He is going to present to Himself, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; that it should be holy and without blemish.** Apart from His own bodily resurrection this could not have been possible.
* Eph. 2: 14-18; cf. 1 Cor. 12: 13. ** Eph. 5: 25-27.
4. The only other point that will be touched on is a very important one, for it serves to illustrate the present contrast between Christ the Head, and the Church His Body.
(a) In the Firstfruits Feast two significant differences were to be observed in the offerings that accompanied the main offering. There was to be no leaven allowed and the sin offering was omitted. The only offerings allowed were the burnt-offering and the meal-offering, both of which served to emphasize the sinless character of Christ. The designed omission is without doubt to guard the spotless holiness of the Antitype to whom the Feast pointed. Thus the whole picture of the Christ is preserved intact - His solitary dignity and pre-eminence both in death and in resurrection; His peerless, holy character; His representative ministry at the right hand of God the priest shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you.
(b) In contrast, the two loaves of the Feast of Weeks were to be baken with leaven, and there was to be a sin-offering also, added to which was the peace-offering. Does this seem to imply that sin is permitted in the Church which is His body? Emphatically, No! But as long as the Church is the church militant on earth it will ever be in the presence of sin; and whilst judicially every member of that Body is holy and sanctified in God the Father, it is still true experimentally that the sinful nature is there and will assert itself if not kept in its right place. It recognizes both the presence of sin and the possibility of sinning. But at the same time it also provides the sin-offering for the cleansing of sin, and the peace-offering for the grace to walk in newness of life - because He is our peace. There is also the burnt-offering and the meal-offering telling of every possible exigency being met by Christ Himself.
(b) VIEWED SEPARATELY
It is instructive to note the time when the Feast of Firstfruits took place. Verse 11 of the chapter indicates its very close connection with the previous Feasts, and specially the phrase on the morrow after the Sabbath. To get the significance of this expression we must again remind ourselves of what was mentioned previously that, the lamb slain [Page 57] as a sacrifice in the Passover became the food that introduced the Feast of Unleavened Bread; so that the latter flowed out of the former without any break. That brings us to the 15th day of the month, and it was to be a day of holy convocation. It might either have preceded or been coincident with the weekly Sabbath - but whether the one or the other, this Feast of Firstfruits was to commence on the morrow after the Sabbath - i.e. on the first day of the week. And we go to the N.T. to find it written: The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre ... Jesus saith unto her, Mary!*
* John 20: 1, 16.
Henceforth, for the Church, the first day of the week becomes the Lords Day, the day of His resurrection from the dead. Notice that this was the third day after the paschal lamb had been slain; at the very time, or within a few hours of the time, when the leaders and priests of Israel were busied in preparing and presenting in their Temple the Omer of Firstfruits.
In this connection David Baron very suggestively quotes Isa. 4: 2, and says: The construction of the Hebrew demands that the expresssion, The fruit of the earth, should be regarded as another title of The Branch of Jehovah. It is one of the most remarkable prophecies of the mystery of the Divine and human natures of the Messiah in the Old Testament. He then goes on to quote Adolph Saphir Exactly as the type had prefigured it, so was He offered up unto God. And on the morrow after the Sabbath He came forth the Sheaf, the Branch out of the earth ... Suffering and death were behind Him. He had died once unto sin, but now He lived unto God.
Here is the glorious Head of redeemed humanity coming forth out of the earth, a Sheaf saved from the earth unto God, that He might sit at the right hand of the Father. How wonderfully is the Passover fulfilled unto us; Christ our Passover is offered; Christ the First-Fruits of the dead is RISEN!
It has ever been the Churchs glorying that the Resurrection of her great Head and Lord is the Foundation Stone of Christianity - taken in conjunction with its essential correlative, the Atoning Death. Or, to use another figure, it is the Key-stone of the Arch of Salvation, of which the [Page 58] Incarnation and the sacrificial Death of Christ, are the two great Pillars. Everything in Christianity, everything in the Church, everything in the Bible, everything in the earth - we may say, gives way if this bulwark of the Faith is anything but literal fact. In these days of increasing unbelief and wholesale attack upon the central truths of Revelation, it is most essential we pause to study and understand this glorious truth for ourselves.
We may summarise the subject as follows; it will be convenient to view it in three aspects: 1. As an historical Fact; 2. as a cardinal Doctrine; 3. as a holy Dynamic for the daily life of service and testimony. In so considering it, we shall the easier realize that, it is not merely a great doctrine, but it has life and motive-force. Not mere dogma, to be held by those professing Christianity in differentiation from other Religions; but it is, what even in these Feasts it is designed to typify, a spiritual source of Life-Power. It is this which makes it so vital a truth for the whole Body, and every member severally.
1. Considered as an historical Fact. A famous Lord Chancellor well said, No fact of ancient history is attested by evidence so abundant, and unique. There are several lines of evidence to prove the Fact, but we must confine ourselves to three only:
(a). The existence of the primitive Church is a very definite proof. It cannot be denied that the early Community of Christians came into existence as the definite result of belief in the Resurrection. The characteristic theme of apostolic preaching was the Resurrection. On every occasion when they were faced by unbelievers, Jews or Gentiles, their testimony was of Jesus and the Resurrection.* Both the apostles, Peter and Paul, in their addresses made it prominent, as a study of the earlier chapters of the Acts shews.** Two facts stand out: (1) the Society was gathered together by preaching; (2) the theme of the preaching was the Resurrection of Christ. There was nothing vague about the preaching or the theme. Had it been possible at all, there were enough Jewish enemies existing only too eager to use any contrary evidence had it [Page 59] existed. But the silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of the Christians (Fairbairn). And we can heartily endorse the statement that as the Church is too holy for a foundation of rottenness, so is she too real for a foundation of mist. (Archbishop Alexander).
* Acts 4: 2. ** See, e.g., Acts 2: 32; 4: 10; 10: 40; 9: 5; 13: 30; 17 : 31; 1 Cor. 15: 1-4.
(b) The second proof is found in the Scripture record itself, mainly of course in the Gospels.
criticism may seek to undermine their credibility, but their evidence will
stand all reasonable tests. In all four
Gospels the appearances of Christ are recorded without any sign of hesitancy or
pleading. There are two sets of
appearances, one in Jerusalem and the other in Galilee, and their number and
the amplitude and weight of their testimony cannot easily be explained away,
but bear the closest examination. For
example, the story of the walk to Emmaus;*
the visit of Peter and John to the tomb,** and the appearance to Mary herself, all reveal
striking marks of reality and simple straightforwardness. Moule comments on
Luke 24: It carries with it, as great literary critics have pointed
out, the deepest inward evidences of its own literal truthfulness. For it so narrates the intercourse of a risen God with commonplace
men as to set natural and supernatural side by side in perfect harmony. And to do this has always been the
difficulty, the despair of imagination. ... The
risen Christ on the road to Emmaus was a fact supreme, and the Evangelist did
but tell it as it was. The same tokens
of credibility are observable in all the other appearances. That there are difficulties we do not deny,
but the very
difficulties are a testimony to a conviction of the truth of the narratives on
the part of the Christian Church through the ages. The records have been fearlessly left as they
are because of the facts they embody. (
* Luke 24. ** John 20.
(c) Another evidence is the personal story of the Apostle Paul. He possessed the three essentials of a true witness: intelligence, candour, and disinterestedness. His conversion and work stand out clearly as a background to his own fearless preaching of the Saviour, of the Resurrection in particular. He affirms that within five years of the Crucifixion of Jesus he was taught that, Christ died for [Page 60] our sins according to the Scriptures ; and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures. (Kennett). He writes this less than twenty-five years after the great Event, and with complete assurance after quoting the summary of the evidence (given in 1 Cor. 15: 3-7), adds his own personal experience (v. 8) last of all ... He appeared to me also. So that Within a very few years of the time of the crucifixion of Jesus the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus was, in the mind of at least one man of education, absolutely irrefutable. (Kennett). This personal testimony of one who at one time was the implacable enemy of the Nazarene and of His people (as he himself humbly confesses), but later became the mighty instrument in Gods hands for the establishing of Christs Church, it is difficult to refuse.
The story has often been told of how Lord Lyttelton and his friend Gilbert West left Oxford University at the close of one academic year, each determining to give attention respectively (during the Long Vacation) to the conversion of Paul and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, in order to prove the baselessness of both. They met again in the autumn and compared experiences. Lord Lyttelton had become convinced of the truth of Pauls conversion, and Gilbert West of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The living Fact of the Resurrection still stands impregnable.
2. Considered as a Cardinal Doctrine. Here again for the sake of brevity we can only look at three principal aspects of the doctrine as it constitutes the basis of the Faith, and our faith individually.
(a) Evidentially, it is the Primary demonstration of the position of Exaltation and Lordship which Christ now occupies. To this end Christ both died and rose again; that He might be Lord.* In an earlier chapter Paul says Christ was declared to be Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection [out] of the dead.** As already seen, all through the Acts the apostles preached the Resurrection. Why? For one reason principally, because it revealed Christ in His true dignity and as possessed of authority. Paul again states; the word of faith which [Page 61] we preach that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and thou shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.*** This Lordship is not a mere question of mental acceptance, its meaning is deeper. It affects the whole outlook of a man, governs his actions, permeates his personality. It is not strange, therefore, that it is insisted upon. As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and builded up in Him, and stablished in your faith.**** This passage is on all fours structurally with the previous one in regard to Christ being Lord. So is also Peters word: Sanctify in your hearts Christ as LORD. Thus the power of the Resurrection is this: that Jesus Christ becomes our Lord, and in that Lordship is the secret of everything worth knowing and having and enjoying in the Christian life. Hudson Taylor used to say, If Christ is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all.
14: 9. ** Rom. 1: 4. *** Rom. 10: 9. ***** Col. 2: 6, 7.
The force of the Lord is the same as in
a doctrine, it stands as the divine vindication of the character, the teaching,
and the work of Christ on earth. In this connection it is particularly significant to notice
the emphasis placed on the fact that the Resurrection was the act of God rather
than of Christ Himself. After the actual Resurrection there does not appear to be a single
text which attributes the Resurrection to Christ Himself. Even those passages which seem doubtful in
the English are quite clear in the Greek, teaching that He was raised from the dead.* (
* Acts 2: 32; Rom. 4: 24, 25; 1 Cor. 6: 14; 1 Thess. 1: 10.
(b) It is further, a Pivotal doctrine of the Faith. As already quoted, 1 Cor. 15: 3-4 is Pauls great affirmation of a basic doctrine: I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that He appeared ... Paul received it, not by tradition only, but direct from His Lord, by revelation. This is clearly proved by noting that the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of verses 3 and 4 form the essential content of the [Page 62] Gospel of verses 1 and 2. Then by reference to Gal. 1: 11-12, where Paul asserts that this Gospel is not of man; nor did he receive it from man, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. This doctrine was first in respect of any other, not merely in order of time, but in priority of importance.* But for the Resurrection we should not have known that the death of Christ was other than the death of an ordinary man. It is Gods seal on the Atoning work of Christ. It bears final testimony to its adequacy for mans salvation; had it not taken place our faith would indeed be in vain, we should still be in our sins.** Not only so, but the Apostle goes on to say, they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.*** In fact, the whole doctrine of the future State (Eschatology) would be radically affected.
* The Greek word translated first of all can also be rendered before all, or at the forefront of all truth. The same phrase is used in the Septuagint where Jacob places the two maid servants and their children in the first rank (Gen. 33: 2), and where David promises a high reward (2 Sam. 5: 8) to whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first.
** 1 Cor. 15: 17. *** 1 Cor. 15: 18.
In this same connection we should note that Christs own veracity was involved, for He predicted plainly His Resurrection whenever, towards the end of His ministry, He mentioned His death.* These statements form an integral part of His teaching. And the centre of all doctrine is Himself; His person, His teaching, and His work. Had He proved faulty, how sustain the doctrine?
*E.g., Matt. 12: 38-40; 16 : 21; Mk. 8: 31; 10: 34; Luke 9: 22; 18: 33; John 2: 19-21.
(c) It is the sure and certain Promise of the Future. The Resurrection is the guarantee and model of the believers resurrection - which really is the main theme of Pauls exposition in 1 Corinthians 15. Numerous other passages bear out this specially glorious aspect of the Resurrection. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.* The believer, therefore, has the divine promise that, like as Christ was raised from the dead, so shall he be raised, with the mighty power of the same blessed Spirit, for, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth [Page 63] in you.** The writer elsewhere reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory.*** He completed a human experience which prepared Him to be the Saviour of the world, the Head of the Church, and provided Him with a Resurrection body which was the type of what ours will be. The prospect for the future is therefore, for the believer, full of blessed assurance and brightness, full of comfort and glory.
* 1 Thess. 4: 14. ** Rom. 8: 11. *** Phil. 3: 21.
The Resurrection is, however, the guarantee of another prospect, which Paul found it necessary to bring before the Athenians as he preached to them in the midst of the Areopagus: Said Paul to his hearers, God hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He hath ordained; wherefore He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.* This is a feature of the Resurrection as solemn as the other is glorious. Perhaps it is not too much to say that the Gospel preached without such warning is lacking in one of its vital points. Yet that point is essentially related to the Resurrection.
* Acts 17: 31.
3. Considered as a Holy Dynamic. This touches the experimental and practical aspects of the Resurrection.
(a) It is the Pledge of our Salvation and acceptance before God. All experience must begin here, with the knowledge of sins forgiven and put away. Paul speaks of those who believe on Him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.* The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, but the moment saving faith comes into operation and lays hold upon the finished work of Christ he becomes a saved sinner. Even when we were dead through our trespasses, (God) quickened us together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with Him.** God raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, says Peter, that your faith and hope might be in God.*** Hence the Resurrection is God's explanation and exhibition to the universe not only of what He thinks about His Son, but of what He thinks of that Son's Atoning death [Page 64] for mans salvation and recovery from sins thraldom. This is also proof not only of His love for the Son but for the sinner: for God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us - and all those connected verses in Romans should be read at the same time.****
* Rom. 4: 25. ** Eph. 2: 5, 6. *** 1 Pet. 1: 21. **** Rom. 5: 8-11.
(b) It is, finally, the Power, the holy Dynamic, for a holy life. In Rom. 1: 16 the Gospel is said to be the Power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. That Gospel, as we have seen, is what it is because of the Resurrection; it is not wrong theology to say, its source of power, lies in the Resurrection (though not, of course, exclusively). And the power that saves is the same power that keeps and makes a holy life possible.
But it is to the first chapter of Ephesians we must turn specially to see how the Resurrection becomes this power to and for us. Verses 15 to the end of the chapter are devoted to the subject, but all we can do now is to note three brief points. Firstly, in vs. 19-20, the apostle states that when God raised His beloved Son [out] from amongst the dead He put forth the whole resources of the Godhead. In other words, the Resurrection was the display of the exceeding greatness of His (Gods) power, an expression intended to convey the idea of super-abundance in every sense. This is further detailed in the words that follow, as if to try and convey the wonder of its display: according to the working (energeia) of the strength (kratos) of His, might (ischus) which he wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead (R.V.). No less than four different words are employed in the attempt to express what, after all, is inexpressible - its true character. Each conveys a different shade of meaning; ischus is power in possession; kratos is power as the result of grasping or of coming into contact with the source of power; energeia is power in expression or manifestation; whilst dunamis (power, the word first used) stresses absolute efficiency in action. Such power was put forth in raising Christ from the dead. Here then is something of the nature of Gods mighty power; and how it dwarfs into infinitesimal nothingness the boasted greatness of mans powers!
Secondly, what this divine display of power accomplished [Page 65] was to exalt the glorious Redeemer far beyond every object which has any relation to Him in any sphere. This Exaltation is seen in, (1) His Supremacy above all created intelligences (v.21); (2) His Sovereignty in the material and moral Universe (v 22); and (3) His Headship and Lordship in the Church which is His Body. We may not pause even to glance at these; but it needs to be carefully noted that, this Exaltation does not remove Him far away and beyond US. Indeed quite the contrary; for in ch. 2: 6 it is made abundantly and gloriously clear that God raised us up with Christ, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. This is our present position as believers; hence we are actually in living touch with our blessed and adorable Head and Lord! That cannot be without sharing with Him what He has for us - that is POWER!
Thirdly, the apostle reveals the direction in which this divine power torrents forth in ever-available supply: His power to us-ward who believe. The outflow of this heavenly Dynamic is toward us and for us. We are not merely to gaze upon it in wonderment, we are to experience it in our every need, in ourselves. In fact, not merely the power, but the hope and the glory previously mentioned. His calling reminds us of the past when we turned to Him for forgiveness and salvation, and became possessed of a hope beyond compare: His inheritance directs our eyes to the vision glorious of the future; His power is the present guarantee of [possible] victory and fruitfulness, of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The secret of its realization lies in that little word believe. Faith relies and receives. It makes real our contact with the Source of blessing: we are in union with Him. (Read specially Rom. 6: 1-11 very slowly and meditatively and prayerfully). So, like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also might walk in newness of life. If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind (affections) on things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For your life is hid with Christ in God.*
* 1 Col. 3: 1-2.
Let us therefore enter, by the Spirits help, into the full knowledge and joyful experience of the typical teaching of this Feast of Firstfruits.
* * *
THE FEAST OF WEEKS
We should keep in mind what has already been said regarding the difference between Weeks (or Pentecost) and Firstfruits.
This Feast bears more than one name. In Exod. 23: 16 it is called Feast of Harvest; in Exod. 34: 22 and Deut. 16 10 and 2 Chron. 8: 13 Feast of Weeks; in Num. 28: 26 Day of Firstfruits. We are told that in Rabbinic literature it is called Feast of the Fiftieth day, and sometimes Feast of the Conclusion (i.e., of the Passover Session); and in reference to the prevailing belief that it was the anniversary of the giving of the Law, it is called The Day (or season) of the giving of the Law. The word Pentecost refers to the Greek word for fifty - the number of days that elapsed between Firstfruits and Weeks.
have pointed out that this Feast foreshadows the
* Cf. Acts 2: 32, 33.
* Note here the relationship between the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles - the Gospels exhibit Christ as paying the price of His own precious blood for the purchasing of a possession, that possession being the Church of the living God (Acts 20: 28b). In the Acts we see Christ (for though ascended it is He Himself who still works) entering into that possession by the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the formation of the Church. In the Epistles we find Christ perfecting His purchased possession, (Eph. 1: 14 - the noun peripoiesis is the same as that in 1 Peter 2 : 9, where peculiar means literally intended for (His) personal property. See the R.V. in each case) until He presents it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such, thing (Eph. 5: 25-27; also Eph. 4: 12, 13; Jude 24).
Before passing on we may well pause to consider a little more about this truly wonderful community. If we have never been struck with the wonderment of it, it is possibly because we have not sufficiently looked into it as it is presented to us in the New Testament. There is one passage at least that shows up, as in a flash of light, something of its mystery and meaning, where the great Apostle sets down one of the purposes of his ministry to make all men see what is the stewardship of the mystery which from all ages hath been hid in God who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God.*
* Eph. 3: 9, 10 R.V.
The passage is full of suggestiveness. It reveals the church as being a disclosure of what once was kept secret in God - a disclosure of the heart and mind and purpose of God.
In the individual believer is revealed the superabounding riches of His grace and love, in the aggreagate body of believers, the Church, is manifested the manifold (the multi-coloured, the much varied) wisdom of God. Here the Church is seen as the means by which countless myriads of angelic hosts and holy intelligences are now being educated into this same awe-inspiring wisdom of God.
And such present revelation of Gods wisdom is seemingly but the prelude to a certain wider and universal pageant, in the succeeding ages, when will be displayed in scenes of unutterable glory to countless galaxies of heavenly principalities and powers the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.*
* Eph. 2: 7.
The thought is stupendous - and humiliating! Stupendous, because it opens out unseen vistas of Gods great activities in the present, far beyond the ken of mortal minds; humiliating, because these holy intelligences must witness many a scene of failure and folly in the members of this Body. But there stands the statement nevertheless, and there is revealed the glory of Gods ways.
Fix your gaze then on this Church [the out-calling from the world], the Fulness of Him that filleth all in all - no other description so fitly expresses the mystery of the Body. Beyond the cavils of men, beyond the apparent failures, and the evidence of earth-stains on her [Page 68] fair garments - regal and glorious, stands erect the Church of our God [Christs Bride called out of the Body of the redeemed], looking forth as the morning, fair as the moon; pure as the sun, terrible as bannered hosts. So God views her, so is she.*
[* Gen. 24; Rev. 19: 7-9, R.V.]
How then, we may ask, does this Church [which the Holy Spirit has called out of the world to be a Bride for Christ] exhibit the manifold wisdom of God? In at least five ways:
(1) In its Conception (Eph. 1: 9, 10; 3: 5, 6, 11, etc.).
It is clearly indicated that the idea of an ecelesia of God was one of
subjects in Gods eternal
counsels. It was not some hastily
concocted experiment on the part of God, nor some happy chance of mans
devising, but a divinely conceived Plan of the Ages. As Bishop Moule says: The redeemed Church corresponds
to this Plan; it is (in
kind, in essence) the realization of the Divine Idea. No
other and better thing in that kind is to succeed it. The past ages, angelic, paradisaic,
patriarchal, Mosaic, prophetic, have led up to the
(2) In its Constitution (1 Cor. 12: 12, 13, 14; Eph. 1: 22, 23). It is a spiritual Body, constituted as such and [if obedient and]* indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Something far greater and grander than what men call the church. It is a mystical Body, of which Christ is the Head: As He without measure is the Fulfilment, or Ideal, of Divine Attributes, so she in measure is the Fulfilment, or Ideal, of Divine Graces; which are, we may venture to say, the Attributes in their reception and manifestation by the regenerate Church. She is the Body through which is realized the Will of the Head, the Fulfilment in which is realized the Grace of the Head (Moule).
* Acts 5: 32.
Another equally important feature of its constitution is that it might be a habitation for God.* The Tabernacle of Old was a dwelling place for God, but that had long since passed away. In this dispensation God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but in human temples regenerated and made by the Holy Ghost,** and in the aggregate of those [Page 69] regenerated temples built together into a habitation of God. Peter speaks of this habitation as a spiritual house, and of each believer as a living stone in that house, quickened and bound together by the all-pervading Spirit of Christ.*** It is thus a Living Temple, wherein God dwells, and which for ever shall resound His praise ye are Gods Building.****
* Eph. 2: 21-22. ** 1 Cor. 8 :16; 6: 19. *** 1 Pet. 2: 5. **** See 1 Cor. 3: 9; cf. 2 Cor. 6: 16.
(3) In its Comprehensiveness (Acts 15: 14, etc.). Lift your eyes my soul beyond paltry bricks and mortar, beyond party walls of exclusion and inclusion, beyond gaudy vestments and tinsel paraphernalia of little men and minds - lift them high and far towards the horizon of Gods [millennial and] eternal vistas, view the boundaries of His City Foursquare! Find therein a multitude that no man can number, out of every nation and people and tongue!
For is not the promise of the Father to the Son I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession? One of the grandest characteristics of this church is its universality. And, correspondingly, its Supreme Message is a world-embracing message God so loved the world that He gave ... Whosoever believeth should not perish.*
* John 3: 16; cf. Rev. 5: 9 ff.
(4) In its Communityship. If the wisdom of God is displayed in sending the Good News among all nations and in gathering out of them a people for His name, it is displayed to even greater degree, if possible, in the binding of those so gathered into a marvellous unity of organism and faith. So that, in spite of all the innumerable points of difference between peoples of such varying origin, nationally, socially, temperamentally, and intellectually, that which stamps the Church as Gods handiwork is its mystical unity of life. In fact, in that High Priestly prayer of Christs in John 17, where the unity of all His hock is so emphasised, the crucial evidence of Christs mission being Divine is this organic oneness of all believers. This oneness is necessarily to be expressed in fellowship, for the mutual building up, comforting, and encouragement of fellow-members of the Body.*
* Read John 17: 20-23; 1 Cor. 12: 26, 27.
This idea of fellowship needs to be greatly emphasized in certain quarters. With some it is a common boast, I [Page 70] belong to no church. If this is to be interpreted as belonging to no denomination or sect, well and good. But if, as is usual, it means a free lance unattached to any body of Christians, it is a twofold evil - it is selfishness on the one hand, and a denial of the unity of the Church on the other. Individual witness and testimony (which means service) is right in its place and necessary; but there is also a very definite corporate testimony the Church is called upon to present.
On this point we quote the pertinent remarks of Dr. Griffith Thomas ; he says: Herein lies the importance of the Church to the individual. Individualistic Christianity is a contradiction and impossibility. Justification comes alone; sanctification in connection with others. Christian character needs the Church for development; character is only possible in the Christian community. So that Christianity properly and fully realized necessitates a community of Christians. Mysticism is too vague and individualistic. Christianity is mystic, but it is far more. Individualism is equally against the New Testament idea of Christianity, for unattached Christians are not found in the New Testament. Abuse never takes away use, and no ultra-spirituality (as it may perhaps be conceived) can set aside the doctrine of the Church ... As Dr. Forsyth once said, Free lances are futilities. Again: It must be constantly borne in mind that the true, full vigorous, mature Christian life is impossible to any Christian who tries to live a solitary life. Individual Christianity can easily be carried to extremes, and become something very different from the Christianity of the New Testament. The Christian must realize in some way the Communion of Saints, if he is to be a true saint himself. Paul prayed that the Christians of Ephesus might comprehend with all saints the love of Christ;* each saint apprehending a little, and all together comprehending that which is intended for the whole Church.
* Eph. 3 : 18.
We may not always be able to see eye to eye with every saint in any given assembly, but herein lies an opportunity for grace and love to abound. Self-discipline, forbearance, the coveting earnestly the best gifts, are all developed in our contact with one another in assembly fellowship. Leadership, and the power to help weaker saints to a better knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ, are forfeited to many [Page 71] inflicted with this kind of selfishness. And remember the loss to the Church also!*
[* God hates pride and a
party-spirit, sectarianism in His redeemed
- attempts to excel; rivalry; and variance - differences of
opinion which cause dispute and disagreement; are two listed by Paul amongst
others which will exclude one from an inheritance in the
(5) In its Consummation. The Apostle describes something of the glory of this consummation later on in this epistle: Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it; that He might sanctify it ... that He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.* We need to visualise that picture in its most glowing colours, to fill every word with its fullest heavenly meaning, in order to catch the true import of the whole statement. In this same connection we may not un-fitly use the words of the same Apostle elsewhere recorded: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.**
* Eph. 5: 25-27. ** 1 Cor. 2: 9.
The Church is called upon to prepare herself to-day for that glorious consummation when she shall be presented to her Lord, the church arrayed in glory (as it should literally be). That consummation is not far off, the Day of His appearing is at hand. O Bride of Christ, put on more earnestly and devoutly thy holy garments of beauty and glory: thy Lord is coming, go ye out to meet Him!
* * *
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
A long interval of nearly four months elapsed between the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in the month Sivan and the Feast of Trumpets on the 1st of Tishri (our September-October). This interval was devoid of any feast of rejoicing such as we have been considering, but instead, in later years, two important historical Fasts were celebrated during its course.
Fast of the 17th of Tammuz (4th month) commemorated the
The Fast of the fifth
month (9th of Abh) was to commemorate the
destruction of the
The Feast of Trumpets introduces us to the second group of the Seven Feasts. It will be well to recall one or two previously mentioned points.
the first place, whilst the first group has taught us lessons concerning both
Christ and the believer, this second
group brings into view also the nation of
Then again, an important difference between the two groups is seen in the fact that the prophetical interpretation of the second group lies in the future, though the practical application is for the present. The lessons they seek to inculcate are in order to godly living and service, in preparation for the coming fulfilment.
Finally, whilst there is a necessary chronological order, the doctrinal interrelation is not so emphasized as between those of the first group. There is of course a very real spiritual relationship, but one Feast does not hang so organically upon the other as noted in the first four Feasts.
1. Prophetical Interpretation. (Read verses 23-25; cf. Num. 29: 1-6; also 10: 1-10).
(a) The Time. 1st day of the 7th month.
The actual length of the Interval referred to above, varied from year to year, within certain limits, owing to the fact that the Jewish Calendar was governed by the moon and not as ours is to-day. But the Feast of Trumpets was ordained to fall always on the first day (whatever day it might happen to be) of the seventh month. This variableness, however, only serves to accentuate the typical character of the period; for nowhere in Scripture can we find any definite statement or allusion that would lead us to fix with any certainty the duration of the present age. The absence of such statement serves to focus attention on the next impending event typified by the Feast of Trumpets - the return of the Lord; whilst the attitude of constant expectation is encouraged by numbers of passages of more clear and positive character. Signs and portents and great happenings there may be ere He comes, but the outstanding fact we are to keep before us is His personal Return.
We have already commented (see Introduction) on the frequent occurrence and significance of the number 7 found in this chapter. Coming, as it does, next to 6, which always denotes incompleteness, a coming short, and connected with man and his failure, 7 is always associated with completeness, rest, joy. (Note that verse 24 refers to a sabbath - a rest). It is also the covenant number of Israel. The seventh month is distinguished above all the other months of the year for the multitude of ordinances connected with it; it was emphatically the sacred month. Incidentally, it is worth remarking that Tishri was the first month of the new civil year.
The present is still Mans Day,* which, whilst shot through with the light of the Gospel of Gods glory, is characterized by the failures and darkness of human sin and demoniacal wickedness. The poor world has run out nearly six millenniums of trying its own way - but the day is soon to dawn when a new event will happen, and the Prince of Peace, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.
* See 1 Cor. 4: 3, R.V. margin.
(b) The Blowing of Trumpets. The
trumpet was a familiar and constantly used instrument in
* Cf. Ps. 81: 3.
The loud and stirring noise was thus, to be heard throughout the land, and was meant to awaken the people to a sense of the occasion, and to call forth an immediate and lively response.* It stood for the voice of God - with which it is frequently connected,** which when heard none may disregard. It was to summon the people to remembrance, as well as to activity.
* In Lev. 25: 9 Cf. it is cry - the rendering sound in the English Bible is too feeble. ** Cf. Isa. 58: 1; Hos. 8: 1.
On the other hand, the trumpet sound may also be take as a cry for help, piercing, as it were, the ear of God Himself that He might arise to the help of His people.*
* Num. 10: 9.
Considered prophetically, then, this Feast points forward to the Day of the Trumpet-Call that shall summon the Church to the side of Her Lord and the godly remnant of Israel to renew her allegiance to her Messiah King. The fact of two trumpets being used on this occasion would suggest that God has both His Church and His earthly people in view. That whilst they differ in many respects they are both the objects of His purposes in grace and glory.
The Second Coming. If Scripture is clear in its revelation of the essential importance of such truths [Page 75] as the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, it is no less clear regarding the truth of the Second Coming. Dr. A. T. Pierson used to illustrate the system of divine truths as revealed in the Word by the geometrical figure of an ellipse - of which the First and Second Advents are the two foci. That is exactly the relative places of importance given to them also by the apostles. And it would seem almost impossible to get a right perspective of New Testament teaching if we fail to recognise the fact. Unfortunately in late years many conflicting interpretations have been put forward which have tended to side-track the whole subject and make it a storm centre of controversy, rather than a blessed and sustaining hope. But this in no way eliminates the promise nor excuses our neglect of it. What it does suggest is that the believer should hold it in all its original simplicity. There may be, there are, many details upon which we need more light ere we can understand them in their fulness and complexity, but the main fact stands out unclouded by verbiage I COME AGAIN AND WILL RECEIVE YOU UNTO MYSELF; BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY.
We shall briefly examine the subject in this spirit, leaving it to others to elaborate the Scriptural details.
(1) ITS PLACE. Look first at its setting in the scheme of revealed truth, that is, as related to other great truths. The Fall of man was immediately followed by the Promise of God: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.* All down through the Old Testament ages we trace foreshadowings of that promised Seed: As Shiloh in Gen. 49: 10; as Star and Sceptre in Num. 24: 17-19; as the Unerring Prophet in Deut. 18: 15-19 as the Branch of the Lord in Isa. 4: 2 ; as Immanuel in Isa. 7: 14 ; as the Child in Isa. 9: 6 as the Prince in Dan. 9: 25 ; as the Ruler in Micah 5: 2 as the Messenger of the Covenant in Mal. 3: 1 - to all of which must be added innumerable other references. So that the first great promise was ever and anon renewed and augmented through the centuries, keeping alive the inspiring hope of a coming Messiah who should take the throne of David and reign in righteousness. At the time appointed He came, though in very different manner from that in which He was expected. The Seed of the woman was born in a manger, and brought [Page 76] up at the carpenters bench. It was only a handful who at first recognised in Him the Eternal Word become flesh and tabernacling among men. But when the fulness of time came God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.** Thus we get the First Advent and the Incarnation.
* Gen. 3: 15. ** Gal. 4: 4, 5.
the Incarnation is not the final or only episode. Gods purpose to bless the world* was not
* Gen. 12: 1-3, etc.
of these facts and in continuance of their operation through the ministry of
the Holy Spirit, God is now calling out a people for Himself from among the
Gentiles which He terms the Church, and
The position occupied by the Second Advent in the revealed body of Redemption truth may be exhibited as follows:
(a) The Tragic Defeat of the first Adam (Gen. 3: 6, 7).
(b) The Revelation of Deliverance (Gen. 3: 15).
(c) THE FIRST ADVENT.
(b) The Incarnation of Christ.
(a) The Crucifixion.
(a) The Resurrection.
(b) The Ascension of Christ.
(c) THE SECOND ADVENT.
(b) The Realisation of Deliverance (Rom. 8: 20, 21).
(a) The Glorious Triumph of the last Adam (Phil. 2: 10, 11; Rev. 19).
In line 1,
* Dr. W. G. Scroggie.
(2) ITS PROCLAMATION.
(a) By the prophets. Isa. 40: 10; 63: 1; Jer. 23: 5, 6; Dan. 7: 13, 14 ; Zech. 6: 12, 13; 14: 3, 4, etc. These are only a few of the numerous references. But we need to keep in mind that many passages do not discriminate between the First and Second Comings. That is, in some passages He is the despised and rejected Saviour,* whilst in others He is depicted as the victorious and glorious King,** but no reference is made as to when either of these aspects is to be fulfilled or what interval was to elapse between the one and the other. Consequently a careful note must be made of such passages as refer to the one or the other, or to both, e.g., Isa. 61: 1, 2 is an illustration of the last class, and the Lord Himself in quoting from it (Luke 4: 16-21) stopped at the comma in the middle of the second verse, indicating that the first part was then fulfilled whilst the remainder still awaits fulfilment.
* E.g., Isa. 53. ** E.g., Isa. 11; Jer. 23; etc.
This peculiar feature of the prophetic utterances does not detract, however, from the certainty of the Second Coming; it rather adds to it. For if the one set of passages relating to the First Advent have been so minutely fulfilled, it goes to strengthen our confidence that the remainder will receive as unmistakable a fulfilment.
(b) By the Apostles. The following series of passages from the writings of Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude are designed to give a sustained line of testimony to the fact of the Second Coming, and will repay study:
The Pauline Epistles
Romans: Now it is high time for you to awake out of sleep; for now is SALVATION nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far spent, THE DAY IS AT HAND (13: 11, 12).
1 Corinthians : Christ, the firstfruits; then they that are Christs at HIS COMING (15: 23).
2 Corinthians: We are your glorying, even as ye also are ours, in THE DAY OF OUR LORD JESUS (1: 14).
Galatians: We through the Spirit WAIT for the HOPED-FOR righteousness by faith (5: 5).
Ephesians: Ye were sealed unto THE DAY OF REDEMPTION (4: 30).
Philippians: Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also WE WAIT FOR A SAVIOUR, the Lord Jesus Christ (3: 20).
Colossians: When Christ, Who is our life, SHALL BE MANIFESTED in glory (3: 4).
1 Thessalonians: Ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and TO WAIT FOR HIS SON FROM HEAVEN (1: 9, 10).
2 Thessalonians: Now we beseech you, brethren, touching THE COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him etc. (2: 1).
1 Timothy: Keep the commandment without spot, without reproach, until THE APPEARING of our Lord Jesus Christ (6: 14).
2 Timothy: There is laid up a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give ... to all them that have loved HIS APPEARING (4: 8).
Titus: We should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present age; looking for the BLESSED HOPE and APPEARING of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (2: 12, 13).
Hebrews: For yet a very little while, HE THAT COMETH SHALL COME, and shall not tarry
The Catholic Epistles
James: Be patient therefore, brethren, until the COMING of the Lord. Stablish your hearts, for the COMING of the Lord is at hand (5: 7, 8).
1 Peter: Be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at THE REVELATION of Jesus Christ (1: 13).
2 Peter: Mockers shall come with mockery ... saying, Where is the promise of His COMING? But THE DAY OF THE LORD will come as a thief (3: 3, 9, 10).
1 John: We know that, if HE SHALL BE MANIFESTED, We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone that hath THIS HOPE set on Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure
(3: 2, 3).
2 John : No reference; but notice verse 8, where rewards implies the end.
Jude : Keep yourselves in the love of God, LOOKING FOR the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (21).
(c) Beyond these apostolic pronouncements we have the words of our Lord Himself: In MY Fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again and will receive you unto Myself that where I am, there ye may be also.*
* John 14: 2, 3.
Even if we allow the argument that these words, because of the present tense used, refer to a coming that is progressive commencing with Resurrection or Pentecost and continuing throughout the spiritual life of the Church, culminating in the believer going to be with Christ at death, there cannot be any doubt that it refers to a definite, future, personal return of Christ also. It is intended to stimulate our faith (ye believe in God, believe also in Me); our hope (In My Fathers house I told you); and our love (and if I go I come again ... there ye may be also).
As the heart after a lifetime turns back to the house and parental affection that shielded childhood, so the heart of the Christian disciple yearns for the Fathers house. With every home comfort and feeling, there is to be also in that better life an amplitude of blessing, a sphere for every capacity, a [Page 80] congenial task for each; all the tender love of home; all the infinite wealth and variety of a world. In adding that if such hopes were baseless He would have told them, Jesus seems to guarantee every hope which His own words may raise.
Elsewhere, Jesus speaks of His coming in totally different terms, depicting it as a coming in glory and in great power, accompanied by His holy angels. But these set forth only another aspect of that same event. For there seems to be a definite separation between His coming to the air for His saints as indicated in such passages as 1 Thess. 4: 15-17, and His coming to the earth with His saints (Matt. 25: 31, 32; 2 Thess. 1: 7-10). (d) Finally, we may add the angelic testimony in Acts 1: 10, 11. Words could hardly be more explicit or meaning more implicit. Lest it should be thought that He would depute some angelic messenger to carry out His promise, it says, this same Jesus. Lest it be denied that He ever ascended, it says, Who is taken up from you into heaven. Lest it be suggested that His coming would be a spiritual and invisible and repeated act (as some have argued from John 14: 2, 3, - see above), it, says, Shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen Him go. And He went bodily and visibly. He went suddenly, even unexpectedly. He shall return in like manner.*
* Vide the references to the thief - like coming in Matt. 24: 43; 1 Thess. 5: 2; 2 Pet. 3: 10; Rev. 8: 3; Rev. 16: 15.
Let us think of the angels, in obedience to the Divine command, leaving heaven on such an occasion to comfort those sorrowing disciples. Their comfort was no mockery, but an unveiling of that Great Event which shall mark the end of the age.
A very beautiful illustration has been indicated by some in the incident recorded in Mark 6: 45-50 (R.V.). Note the following points:
(1) Christs ascension and present intercessory work: And after He had taken leave of them, He departed into the mountain to pray (v. 46).
(2) The Church left in the world: When even was come the boat was in the midst of the Sea.
(3) The conflict of the Church against contrary elements [Page 81] and Christs watchful care: Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them.
(4) His Return in the last watch (the dawn of day, 3-6 A.M.) About the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them.
(5) The unexpectedness of His coming and the un-preparedness of the disciples: They supposed it was an apparition.
(6) The word spoken: Immediately He talked with them, and said unto them: Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.
Whilst no more than an illustration, its suggestiveness is apparent.
It is difficult to understand how any careful student of Scripture can minimize and even deny the doctrine of Christs coming again, for this truth does not rest upon a few proof texts, but enters into the entire warp and woof of divine revelation, and any system of theology which fails to recognize it, must be sadly incomplete if not positively at fault.
(3) ITS POWER. The formative influence of this great doctrine is not only a fact taught in Scripture but proved in experience. Coupled with faith and love it supplies a spiritual principle in hope for the sustenance of the believers present life and future glory. Of Christ Himself it is written, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, .despising the shame.* The hope of the second advent is to have the same effect in the heart of the disciple. For by hope were we saved and if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.**
* Heb. 12: 2. ** Rom. 8: 24, 25.
(a) It Sanctifies. We know that, if He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is. And every one that hath this hope set on Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Therein lies the secret of all true sanctification - our hope set on Him, and His being manifested. Just in proportion as the heart is occupied with the Coming One, will it find happy release from the entanglements of the world and the cares of life.
There are a multitude of arguments from things past and present in favour of holy living, but surely it is our glorious [Page 82] destiny of perfection and of transfiguration into Christs image,* that gives to this present aim its highest inspiration and most joyful incentive!
* We shall be like Him, 1 John 3: 2; cf. also Rom. 8: 29.
In 2 Cor. 7: 1 we find the same thought. Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. What promises did the apostle refer to?
The immediate context in the preceding chapter (6: 14-18) doubtless supplies the primary application here. There is utmost necessity for complete separation from evil. Yet surely the gracious words of encouragement already given by the apostle, in his previous argument, are in a sense included also, as supplying a whole series of incentives for holy living.
We can go back, therefore, and gather these together, with this latest promise of ch. 6: 18. In ch. 4: 14 the promises of resurrection and of presentation. In ch. 4: 17 the promise of a weight of glory eternal and immeasurable. In ch. 5: 1, 2 the promise of a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. And though doubtless this refers to the believers glorified body, we may read it in complete accord with the promise of John 14: 2. In ch. 5: 8 it is the promise of being at home with the Lord. In verse 10 the promise of the Judgment-seat of Christ. And every one of these promises is dependent upon the promise of His Return for when Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory.* The words of Titus 2: 12, 13 go further to prove the sanctifying effect of His Return, ... that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ - ‑the reason for the effect being given in the next verse, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity.
* Col. 3: 4, 5.
If the Lord endured the death of the cross for our purification, how, says G. F. Trench, can anyone be looking for His appearing without the necessary result of separation from all that would grieve Him at that day? (Cf. also 1 Thess. 3: 13; 5: 23).
(b) It calls for watchfulness. The apostle Paul in Rom. 13: 11-14 reminds the saints that now is salvation nearer [Page 83] to us than when we first believed, and consequently it is high time to awake out of sleep, the night is far spent, the day is at hand. And just as we lay aside the garments of sleep, so he says: Let us cast off the works of darkness. The allusion is of course, to the [future] salvation from the very presence of sin to be accomplished when Christ returns. Jude also lays stress upon the need of active exercise in spiritual things. Keep yourselves in the love of God (verse 21) and by looking for (verse 21). It is when the heart gets drawn away from the prospect of Christs imminent Return that it opens itself to work all manner of unrighteousness. The Lords parable of the good and evil servants in Matt. 24: 42-51 teaches this emphatically. It is the servant who says My lord tarrieth, who begins to beat his fellow servants and becomes lawless. Watch, therefore, says the Lord, for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. And that attitude is practically inseparable from that of prayer and preparation of heart (Mark 13: 33; Luke 12: 40, etc.).
(c) It holds out the promise of reward. Adequate compensation can only be given at the end of the days work. Each mans work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it (1 Cor. 3: 8-14). If any mans work abide he shall receive a reward. In Rev. 22: 12 we read Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to each man according as his work is (cf. Isa. 40: 10; 62: 11).
Pauls favourite metaphors of the race and the games, in which the prize goes to the overcomers, are designed to inspire the Christian athlete with the necessary self-discipline, persistent effort, and eager expectation, in view of the imminent appearing of the Lord Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 9: 25-27 and 1 Tim. 6: 12-14).
Throughout all the Epistles and Revelation the same doctrine [of a disciples reward] is found. It is the Lords appeal and the spirit of hope within us, to enlist it, if He may, in the cause of holy living and faithful serving. Fidelity, obedience and service are constantly challenged to greater achievements. And it is the quality of certainty which gives solid ground to faith and braces the moral fibres of the heart. It is, on the other hand, the uncertainty of the time which stimulates hope and sanctifies our effort. And, to quote Trench once more, those who cultivate the habit of hope will find by experience that inveterate evil dispositions, the fires of the flesh [Page 84] and the passion of sins will be cooled, and damped, and conquered, by the joyful anticipation of the [coming millennial] glory, the purity, and the presence and fellowship of Christ and His people to which they are called.
There can be no doubt that the uniform testimony of the early Church to the personal and near return of the Lord Jesus constituted a source not only of comfort in persecution and trial but of inspiration to achieve and endure. History demonstrates that the Church is never so virile and strong as when this glorious truth [or truth of coming millennial glory] is held in prominence and enjoyed in personal experience.
* * * * * * * *
We have purposely refrained from going into details, our desire being to inspire the heart with an increased joyful anticipation of the glorious event predicted. The reader is referred to larger works for a more orderly statement of details, especially as to the relative parts to be played by the Church of God on the one hand and Israel the Nation on the other. The point we wish to emphasize here is the effect on life and service which the imminent Return of our adorable Lord should daily exercise. Abide in Him, that if He shall be manifested we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.*
* 1 John 2: 28; cf. 4: 17.
2. Practical and Typical Application. There are three or four points we wish to deal with briefly in considering the lessons for the present time contained in this Feast.
(a) The two trumpets. Two stands typically for testimony and witness.* In view of the essential truth typified by this Feast we have little doubt that these two trumpets stand for the twofold agency through which the truth of God is conveyed to us to-day, viz., the Word and the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Word illuminated by the [Holy] Spirit we can have no clear knowledge of Gods will for us or His purposes in the world. Moreover either of these alone is inadequate. The Word is not understandable without the [Holy] Spirits ministry operating upon the mind of the believer. Hence Christs promise of the Paraclete in John 16: 7-15, etc. On the other hand the Holy Spirit will only continue to work as we [obey God (Acts 5: 32) and] make use of the Word. This explains the prominence given [Page 85] to the Scriptures in the Apostles last letter to Timothy - study carefully ch. 1 : 13, 14; 2: 15; 3: 14-17; 4: 2, etc.
* See e.g., John 8: 18; Heb. 6: 18, cf. Rev. 11: 3; and the twofold witness in Rom. 8: 16.
This twofold channel of Divine life and power is seen in wonderful exercise in the Son of Man Himself. For whilst it was true He was anointed by the Spirit without measure, He had constant recourse to the written Word, as shown in the temptation in the wilderness. It seems unquestionably certain that His repeated reference to both the Word and the Holy Spirit is designed to set an example to all who would follow the path of true discipleship and bear testimony for Him down here.
So much for the subjective testimony of the Word and the Holy Spirit, but we must not forget the objective
that is, the manner in which both bear one continuous testimony to the Person and Work of Christ the Lord. He is their single theme, and to reveal Him their unique ministry.
(b) The Priests alone were to blow the trumpets (Num. 10: 8; 31: 6; Josh. 6: 1).* That is, by right of birth, being sons of Aaron, the priests were entitled to this privilege, besides that other great honour of right of access to the sanctuary to minister before the Lord.
So to-day [regenerate] believers, constituted priests, by virtue of their relationship and union with Christ have immediate access into the holiest of all, apart altogether from any human ordination.** And it is because of this we may exercise within the sanctuary the ministry of intercession and worship (Newberry renders the phrase Ye that make mention of the Lord, found in Isa. 62: 6, by The remembrancers of Jehovah); whilst to the world without we may sound forth the glorious Gospel of Gods salvation.
* See the various occasions upon which trumpets were blown as given in Num. 10: 1-10, specially verses 9, 10.
** See 1 Pet. 2: 9; Rev. 1: 6; Heb. 10: 19, 20.
But the further lesson is just as emphatic‑that ministry within or without must be dependent upon our use of the twofold agency referred to above, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. There must be the clear note of conviction and power based upon these two sources of life and light and love, " for if the trumpet give an uncertain voice who shall prepare himself for war ? " If we feed not our souls upon that Word in the energy of the Spirit how shall we have '&power with God" within, or be free to deliver souls in danger without ?
(c) Silver trumpets, and not rams horns were to be used here. The latter speaks of judgment and doom.* Silver always symbolizes redemption, substitution, possession.** From which we may learn the truth, that it is upon the ground of redemption alone that we are called to be priests and witnesses. And it is upon the ground of redemption that He claims entire possession of us to use in whatsoever service He will.*** These points are important and deserve careful study and application. There is a great tendency in these days to forget them, and any and every kind of person (knowing nothing about redemption experimentally) is pressed into Gods service with disastrous results. The blind lead the blind.
* Josh. 6: 4. ** Cf. Ex. 30: 11-16. *** 1 Cor. 6: 19, 20; 2 Cor. 5: 15.
Moreover, these trumpets were the constant memorial of the grace of God going out to His people in redemption. So Gods witnesses to-day are the constant evidence of His grace going out to a lost world and to His own redeemed people.
(d) Accompanying Offerings. Numb. 29: 1-6. As in previously noted Feasts the offerings that accompany the Feast point to Christ and the various aspects of His relationships to His people. (See comments under Feast of Unleavened Bread). The Burnt Offering is particularly mentioned as being in excess of the usual daily or even monthly Offerings (v. 6), as if it were intended to emphasize the fact of Christ satisfying perfectly the claims of God in a complete obedience to Gods will, upon which is based the believers acceptance with God.* And if ever we shall realize fully what it means to be accepted in the Beloved, it will surely be in that day when He comes Himself to take US to Himself,** without blemish, and with exceeding joy.*** But it is only as we feed upon Him daily in this aspect that we shall enter fully into the joy of that day and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
* Eph. 1: 6. ** Eph. 5: 27. *** Jude 24.
* * *
THE FEAST OF ATONEMENT
Day of Atonement must be regarded as the most solemn event in all the sacred
1. The Order of Procedure on the Day of Atonement.
(a) After the usual morning oblations, attended to personally by the High Priest, he washed himself and exchanged his usual garments of glory and beauty for garments of plain linen - linen tunic, linen breeches, a linen girdle, and the linen mitre which are called emphatically garments of holiness, and reserved specially for the service of the day. These plain linen garments - clean and white as they doubtless were - require no explanation, they were the symbols of holiness which became one who would enter the immediate presence of the Most High, and mediate with effect between Him and sinful men.
(b) The next important matter was the offering of a young bullock as a sin-offering for himself and his house. Besides the actual killing of the animal there were three special items of procedure included - (1) the confession of his own and his familys sins over the head of the bullock as he rested both his hands on its head (2) the carrying of a censer of incense into the Holiest that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony (verse 13) ; (3) the sprinkling of the blood of the bullock once upward and seven times downward upon and before the mercy-seat (which in all probability required a double entrance into the Holiest, first with the incense and then with the blood). Thus he made atonement for himself and his household first. In the blood and the cloud of incense we get two aspects of the wondrous covering by which we are [Page 88] brought near to God. The blood tells of the penalty of sin fully borne; the incense speaks of the fragrance of Christs infinite perfection. Our sin is covered by the one, our person by the other (Holliday).
(c) Having thus become symbolically a true representative of Christ as High Priest, his next work was the offering of the sin offering for the people as a whole. Two goats had already been chosen by lot and one of these was slain and its blood used in exactly the same way as the blood of the bullock, necessitating a second (probably third) entrance into the Holiest. Finally he sprinkled the blood in the outer sanctuary before the veil and upon the horns of the altar of incense, pouring the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar of burnt-offering.
(d) Then came the solemn acts connected with the second goat which was still alive. Both these goats were to be provided by the congregation - the people themselves. Both constituted a Sin-offering. One complex act had to be symbolized on the occasion, and two victims were chosen to do it, simply on account of the impossibility of giving otherwise a full representation of what was included in the act - the one being designed to supply the means of atonement, and the other to exhibit its perfected result.* #
* The teaching abroad to-day that the one goat was for Jehovah and the other for Satan, who, therefore, had our sins laid upon him (instead of upon Christ), will be recognized, by all spiritually-minded students as a pernicious falsehood. The action of casting lots upon the two animals had no reference to any possibility of one being chosen for God and the other for some one else. The question to be determined was simply - which one should become the victim for sacrifice and which the scape-goat. These parts were not mutually independent - they represent one complex act of sin-bearing. If it had been possible for the dead animal to be raised to life again the action would have been more readily perceived, but this not being practicable except by miracle, the action was carried forward to its fitting result by a fresh goat taking the place of the other.#
# In what way did the scapegoat come back after bearing the sins?? You would need two goats maybe four! After bearing our sins, did the goat go away never to come back? as this goat did!!* (E. HOWARTH.)
In Isa. 53: 12 we get these two aspects of one truth brought out He poured out His soul unto death, alluding to the truth exhibited in the sacrifice of the one goat; and He bare the sin of many, alluding to the truth typified by the other goat. Hence we get the comforting truth that not only is there forgiveness of sin, but an utter forgetting of sins that are past - both heart and conscience are purged. The sending away of the live goat into a land not [Page 89] inhabited, where not a being lived who could call to remembrance the existence of the sins confessed on its head, was just the action that took up the history where the death of the other goat had left it.
(e) The ritual of the day was brought to a close by the offering up of the two Burnt-offerings for the High Priest and for the people. This was done after the latter had again bathed his person and changed his robes for his usual garments.
In all this the attention is intended to be focussed upon the typical teaching fulfilled in the atoning work of Christ upon the cross. And we must not fail to notice at the same time just those few points where the type falls short of the Antitype. We are to learn by the contrasts as well as by the comparisons. For instance: Christs work was once for all, whereas there was a yearly recurrence of The Day (as it was called by the Jews). Then there was the necessity of two goats in order to give the full teaching, whereas Christs was but one offering - that of Himself. Further we have the necessity of the High Priest making an atonement for himself first, ere he could officiate for his people. Not so with Christ - He ever was, and offered Himself as, the lamb without blemish. Finally, it would almost seem that the two sets of Burnt-offerings prescribed to make an atonement even after atonement had already been made (Lev. 16: 24), suggest that even in this holiest act of ministry there was not wanting human failure and imperfection - if so, the contrast with Christs work is all the more striking.* We have a very full and divine commentary upon all this in the Epistle to the Hebrews (chs. 9 and 10), where not merely the correspondences between the new and the old are dealt with, but the superiority of the one over the other.
* It betokened the presence of sin in the very act of getting sin taken away, and the necessity of all throwing themselves on the mercy of God even at the close of transactions which had brought them into most immediate contact with it. Being a burnt-offering, however, and not a sin-offering, that was now presented, this implied that along with the taking away of the guilt that had been contracted, there was the call to a fresh dedication of soul and body to the service of God, (Fairbairn; to which source I am also indebted for other quotations in this chapter.)
2. Comparison with the Passover.
What has been given will enable the reader to gain some idea of the real character of the Day. The next step is to note the differences between this Feast and that of the Passover - the other great Feast that also foreshadows the work of Christ in accomplishing redemption. It will be well for the reader before proceeding to refresh the memory regarding the details of the Passover.
The following is a tabulated statement of the subject
(a) One Lamb without blemish, chosen on 10th day of 1st month, slain on the 14th.
(b) First occasion participated in by the whole congregation - subsequently by the priests alone.
(c) First occasion blood sprinkled on side posts and lintel - subsequently poured out at side of altar.
(d) No incense used. Partaking of the slain lamb with bitter herbs.
(e) No need of a scape-goat.
* Each point in the one should be compared to the corresponding point in the other, hence the step ladder manner of setting them out.
(a) Two separate sin-offerings: one a bullock, one a goat. Took place 10th day of 7th month.
(b) All carried out by the High Priest, that is, in its essential features.
(c) Blood taken within the veil, and sprinkled before and upon the mercy seat.
(d) Incense commanded in such quantity as to serve for a cloud within the Holiest. No part of the sacrifices - not even the burnt offerings to be eaten, but all burnt outside.
(e) A scape-goat essential.
These are the main features of comparison, and though there is abundance of material for meditation and study, a very brief comment upon each must suffice here -
(a) Taking first the teaching suggested by the symbolical numbers 7 and 10, we have already seen that 7 is symbolical of completeness and even of perfection. In the number 10 we have another significant and frequently-occurring symbolic number. We recall the 10 antidiluvian patriarchs (Gen. 5); the 10 righteous men who might have saved Sodom (Gen. 18: 32); the 10 plagues of Egypt; the 10 commandments; the 10 elders who accompanied Boaz (Ruth 4: 2); the 10 virgins of the parable (Mt. 25: 1); the 10 pieces of silver (Luke 15: 8) ; the 10 servants entrusted with 10 pounds (Luke 19: 13ff.), the most capable of whom was placed over 10 cities; the 10 lepers healed; the 10 days tribulation predicted for the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2: 10).
study of all these and other passages enables us to see that the number is
connected intimately with the Divine claims to faithfulness in stewardship,
obedience in commandment, and devotion in worship. The latter is specially intended in the
numerous occurrences of the number in the Tabernacle and
So the Passover 10th day points forward to the Lamb of God who was tested in His three and a half years of public ministry and was proved sinless in every detail. He fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Divine claims.
(b) In the Passover the emphasis is definitely upon the point of mans appropriation of that which was divinely provided for redemption. Whereas in the Atonement Feast the emphasis is on the truth that sin can only be covered* by the work of Christ as our High Priest, and by nothing less.
* The Hebrew word Kahphar, which is rendered to atone in English, means properly to cover, and the essential idea connected with atonement, as far as this word is concerned, is the covering or hiding of sin from the holy one ... To the question as to how alone sin can be effectually covered ... we read The life of the flesh is in the blood ... for it is the blood which with the life (that is in it) covereth, (Lev. 17: 11, Heb. lit.) - that is, life covereth life; the life of the innocent offering, in the blood poured out upon the altar, covereth the life forfeited by the guilty offerer. - David Baron.
(c) In the Passover, again, the blood on the lintel and side posts emphasizes the necessity of faith on the sinners part and of the efficacy of the blood of the substitute to shield from judgment. Whilst the blood of the Atonement sacrifice taken within the veil speaks of the divine basis for the exercise of divine righteousness and forgiveness, so that [Page 92] not only is the sinner forgiven but Gods justice and holiness are upheld inviolate.
(d) Under this point we are directed to view the divine holiness and perfection from two different aspects: the Passover pointing to the truth that the only Substitute that can bear the whole burden of sin and fulfil the divine claims is one that is absolutely holy, whereas the incense of the Atonement tells us that the Holy One is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Such ineffable holiness is necessarily veiled from human sight, though it is manifested in the infinite perfections of the Incarnate Christ - so that the apostle John is able to write our hands have handled the Word of Life, the Living Word.
Divinely appropriate, therefore, is the provision of the lamb for food in the one case and not in the other the flesh of the Atonement sacrifices must be burnt.*
* This burning arose, not from the flesh being polluted - on the contrary, the flesh of all sin-offerings was declared to be most holy (Lev. 6: 25-27); but here, where the priesthood and congregation were alike concerned, there was no one who could with propriety eat of it; it had, therefore, to be burned, but still as a holy thing in a clean place. - (Fairbairn).
(e) Finally, in regard to the lack of a scapegoat in the one Feast and the necessity of one in the other - we must again recall that the Passover was essentially a deliverance from judgment and bondage, whilst the other Feast is essentially an atoning for and cleansing from sin both aspects entirely necessary and both meeting in the Person and work of Christ.
Thus we might sum up the comparison by saying that the Passover views the atoning work of Christ from the point of the sinners need; whilst the Atonement typifies the vindication of the claims of Divine Righteousness and Justice by full and righteous satisfaction.
3. Prophetical and Practical Teaching.
It is only as we understand the preceding points that we can adequately enter into the prophetical teaching of the Feast, hence the amount of space we have given to them. What then, is the real prophetic import of the Feast as it finds its setting among the other Feasts of Leviticus 23?
In answer, a further question will immediately arise to the mind - Why the somewhat marked difference between the [Page 93] narrative in the 16th chapter and this in the 23rd? There is not only the very summary manner of alluding to the days proceedings in the latter scripture, but the most vital part of the whole ritual is passed over and what would seem a mere secondary item is emphasized.
It is just the point, however, which involves the prophetic teaching. The difference is without doubt designed; for if we have rightly caught the meaning of the Divine Author in interpreting this Feast as pointing onwards to the Judgment Seat of Christ for the Church, and the Day of Repentance for Israel as a nation, then the omission of all reference to the sacrificial ritual and high-priestly ministry appointed for that day is in perfect harmony with it. Leviticus 23 purposely stresses the affliction of soul on the part of the people themselves. It was to be a day of self-humbling and confession of sin, a day not of feasting so much as fasting, and yet it was to be a day of rest and not labour.
This is not to slur over the other solemn events of that day - in fact, humiliation, confession, and rest of heart and conscience are only of value, or even possible, when based on the High-Priestly work of Christ typified by the day.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for the believer and for none other, when his days of service shall be passed in review in order to reward, when the " hidden things of darkness " and the " counsels of the heart "‑dispositions, motives, desires‑will be manifested in their true light before the eve of Him who searches to deepest depths, and from Whom nothing can be hid.* Some will suffer loss (though not their eternal security), others will gain rewards - all in perfect accord with the divine rectitude of infinite love and infinite justice. But whether suffering loss or receiving reward - all will doubtless realize in a very deep and moving manner three things:
* 2 Cor. 5: 10.
(a) The exceeding sinfulness of sin - which will lead to humiliation and affliction of soul, and then confession real and permanent.
(b) The exceeding efficacy of the atoning blood of Christ in cleansing and blotting out of every stain on heart and conscience - never more to feel even the breath stain of sin.
(c) The exceeding riches of His grace and love, that not [Page 94] only forgives but forgets, and brings into the place of perfect rest, perfect service, and perfect fellowship for all eternity. Sin shall be forever put away - holiness shall forever be enjoyed.
So much for the Church. It will be a
similar experience for
same three effects as were stated of the Church in her experience of the
Judgment Seat of Christ, will be produced upon the
It is very significant, finally, to note that; It was on the evening also of the Day of Atonement, after the complete cycle of seven sevens of years were fulfilled, that the Jubilee was proclaimed (Lev. 25: 9, 10), which was the signal of liberty, not only to the people but for the land itself, which that year was neither to be ploughed, sown, nor reaped - the typical significance of which was already discerned by the prophets in the Old Testament, who rejoiced in spirit, and by faith greeted from afar the time when, after Israels iniquity shall have been purged, Messiah will not only proclaim liberty to the captives (the very words used in Isa. 61: 1 are taken from the command in reference to the Jubilee in Lev. 25: 9, 10) - but when the earth itself shall at last enjoy her rest, and the whole creation, which has been groaning and travailing in pain together until now, shall at last be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (David Baron).
* * *
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
religious calendar of
The Feast of Tabernacles commenced on the fifteenth day of the month and lasted eight days, the first and last days being observed as Sabbath days of holy convocation. It was therefore, the longest of all the festivals.
In Leviticus 23: 34 it is called the Feast of Tabernacles (lit. booths; Heb. sakkah or succoth from a root meaning to interweave) but it also bears the equally-appropriate title of Feast of Ingathering,* because it took place in the end of the year, when they had gathered in their labours out of the field. It was distinctly the harvest festival - the corn and vintage were safely harvested, and thanksgivings abounded.
* David Baron appropriately quotes Edersheim regarding the names given to this Feast: In reference to the harvest it is called Feast of Ingathering in that to the history of Israel in the past, the Feast of Tabernacles while its symbolic bearing on the future is brought out in its designation as emphatically The Feast and The Feast of Jehovah.See Ex. 23: 16; Dent. 16: 13.
1. Character. The distinctive characteristic of this Feast was that of joy, and of rest that accompanies joy. For a people so distinctly agricultural as the Israelites were, the end of the harvest meant, in a very real sense, the end of toil and time for rest and rejoicing. All the main features that went to make up the feast (see below) would help to emphasise this joy.
(a) This joy had a twofold aspect - or shall we say, flowed from two directions. Lev. 23: 40-43 gives the reason for the command that at this Feast the people should dwell in booths - it was to remind them of the way God had brought them through the wilderness. It partook, therefore, of a commemorative and retrospective character. No time of the year seemed to be so fitting as this - as they contemplated the abundance of corn and wine yielded by the land, in fulfilment of the description given by God Himself of a land flowing with milk and honey, they must have been vividly reminded of the contrast with the difficulties and dangers of the journey through the wilderness. At the same time they would have the grateful remembrance of the God of Israel, who sustained them miraculously in the wilderness, and led them by the hand of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua safely into the promised land.
The Feast of Tabernacles could not be kept in the wilderness - the people had to be brought first into possession of the land of promise. But the wilderness formed the connecting link between the house of bondage, on the one hand, and the inheritance of life and blessing, on the other. Hence, the annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles was like a perpetual renewing of their religious youth; it was keeping in lively recollection the time of their espousals, and placing themselves once again amid the scenes and transactions which constituted the most wonderful period of their whole history. Their joy and rejoicing must, therefore, flow from the remembrance of this past history. This is further brought out in the well-known passage where Moses is seen addressing them at the close of the forty years: Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness.*
* Deut. 8: 2-5.
This retrospective and commemorative character is further emphasised by another ordinance. It was most fitting that the Feast of Tabernacles was the time chosen for the reading of the Law, every seven years, in the hearing of the whole congregation.* How forcibly this must have taken them back to Sinai and the covenant made there by God with them! Gods requirements were to be as closely observed if they were to continue in the land as in conquering the land.
* Deut. 31: 10-18.
it is deeply significant to note how, in spite of every such reminder,
* See Hos. 2: 8, 9.
the prophet had to speak in this manner is revealed in Neh. 8: 17-
the Feast had seemingly never been kept strictly in the manner (nor in the spirit) laid down in the law from the days of
Joshua to the Return from captivity in
Such indications of declension reveal the purpose of God in sending them into captivity. As Fairbairn remarks: It became needful to send her virtually again through the rough and sifting process of her youth ... the discipline which characterized the wilderness sojourn must be undergone anew, in order that the spirit of earnest and devoted zeal, in which it had issued, might again become the characteristic of the people of God.
But the Feast had also a distinctly anticipative and prophetical character. Zech.
is a chapter vividly describing the day of
Here we have a very clear futurist reference. And as will [Page 98] be shown later, this is in keeping with the prophetical interpretation of the type implied in the Feast. Why this Feast is singled out is doubtless because (in the words of David Baron), the spiritual truths set forth by this particular type shall then be realized - for Jerusalem shall then be the metropolis of Gods Kingdom on earth, and the joy and blessedness foreshadowed by that Feast will then not only be the portion of saved Israel, but shall also pervade all nations.*
* Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah, p. 521.
Whilst, therefore, it bade them rejoice in the backward look, it sought to point them onward and to look for a day when the Canaanite should no more be in the house of Jehovah of Hosts but the whole earth should be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.
2. Prominent Features. - We shall just briefly enumerate and describe the more important features, leaving the teaching till later.
(a) The Feast of Tabernacles was the only one that had an octave [8 days]. The usual manner of statement is that it was a seven-day Feast with a special extra day added, really the first day of a new week, bearing a special significance, as we shall see later. The first and last days were both days of holy convocation and rest.
(b) One of the great features was the command to dwell in booths. These booths were temporary structures, made of branches and leaves of trees - various kinds being mentioned in each of the several passages, the most prominent being the olive, the myrtle, the palm, and the willow of the brook. The pine of Neh. 8: 15 is probably more correctly rendered by the R.V. as wild olive. No special directions were given as to their location. They were usually erected in the open fields around, in the public squares and open spaces, even in the streets and on the house tops. The main point was the spirit and atmosphere of festivity that such a temporary removal from the usual household routine would help to foster. The people of the East are peculiarly responsive to such occasions, and enter far more enthusiastically upon a spectacular enterprise of this kind than those living in Western lands.
The reason for this special feature we have already alluded to. It was to bring to mind the wilderness journey and to call forth praise at the deliverance from the attendant hardships.
(c) Another prominent feature was the unusual number of daily sacrifices, the burnt-offerings being specially conspicuous for the large number of victims. These burnt offerings were in addition to the usual daily morning and evening sacrifices. Instead of one ram and seven lambs, there were two rams and fourteen lambs; and instead of one bullock, it began with thirteen on the first day, twelve on the second, eleven on the third, and so diminishing by one daily to seven on the seventh day. On the eighth day the usual number was once more resumed.
There was also the daily sin-offering of one goat. The meaning of this feature will be dealt with later. The total number of victims must have been very great, and it would involve much extra time and work on the part of the priests and Levites.
(b) There remains only to call attention to two other interesting features attaching to this Feast which were added at some later date, though not belonging to the Mosaic institution.
The first is known usually by the title The Joy of the Drawing the Water (Simchat-bet-ha-Shoebhah). [John 7: 37] Every morning of the Feast, a joyous procession, accompanied by music and headed by a priest bearing a golden pitcher, measuring just a little over two pints, made its way from the Temple courts to the Pool of Siloam. At the same time another procession went to the place in the Kedron Valley called Moza, or Colonia, whence they broughf willow branches which they bound on either side of the altar of burnt offering, bending them over towards it so as to form a kind of leafy canopy (Baron). Amidst great demonstrations of joy and excitement this water was poured into a silver basin or tube on the altar, simultaneously with the prescribed libation of wine, which was poured into another tube.
The seventh day was the climax. The joyous crowds of
worshippers on that day, seen from one of the flat roofs of
David Baron describes the significance of this ceremonial, as stated in the Talmud, to have reference to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. And it is suggestive to compare this with the allusion it found in John 7: 37-39. It is of special interest to note that the best renderings of verse 38 make the words out of him shall flow rivers of living water to refer to Christ and not to the believer.
The last feature is the wonderful
illumination of the
Prophetical and Typical Teaching. - In our
consideration of the two previous Feasts we have possibly emphasised the
teaching connected with the church rather than that relating to
(a) We have in this Feast then, the foreshadowing of that period known as the Millennium. Two or three considerations lead us to this conclusion, which we shall now [Page 101] examine. But we do not necessarily wish to limit the typology to the Millennium. Quite possibly it looks much further into the limitless horizon of that Eternal Dispensation that lies at the other end of the Thousand years - as we shall see.
First it takes place after the harvest of earth has been gathered in. It is meant to indicate a closing scene of joy and gladness. And read in connection with the teaching of the previous Feast (Atonement), there is more than a suggestion that the harvest represents the gathering in of the Nation of Israel which inaugurates the Millennial reign of Messiah-King. The church [of the firstborn], as we have seen, will already be present by the side of her Lord. But not only are the saints (earthly and heavenly) to be gathered in prior to the Millennium, but the nations are to be judged also. Gods righteous punishment against evil is to be poured out upon the earth (cf. Joel. 3: 11-14, etc.).
It is at least significant, therefore, to note the mention of both the corn harvest and the vintage for, read in connection with such passages as Joel (above) and Rev. 14: 14-20, it would seem quite permissible to think of the vintage as referring to the gathering together of the nation for judgment (cf. Zech. 14). As an interpretation this is worthy of the closest study. When dealing with the application, we are able, of course, to take a broader view and to consider the harvest as symbolical of labour and toil of earth brought to an end, and the Feast itself as speaking of eternal joy and felicity.
Then the number 7, shown previously, denotes completion, joy and rest, a perfect cycle of time. And the addition of an eighth day makes it all the more striking. For the Millennium is to last only the thousand years - after which we get the dawn of that Eternal Dispensation which is to crown and close all. The seven days, therefore, very appropriately complete the earthly scene, whilst the eighth introduces us to the new day of Eternal glory, when the earth as we know it now, gives place to a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness for evermore.
If 7 denotes completion, 8 denotes [the last] resurrection - and this last great day of the Feast (John 7: 37) undoubtedly represents the consummation of all the manifold purposes of God, when all the gracious promises of our covenant-keeping Jehovah shall have their glorious [Page 102] fulfilment. Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people (Rev. 21: 1-8).
(b) Regarding the typical teaching of the sacrifices which accompanied the Feast, only a few remarks must suffice. Commentators generally are at a manifest loss to account for the unique series presented on this occasion. And in view of the difficulties we can only offer what must after all be merely suggestions - but there is all the more reason for more study and meditation upon the subject.
The passage in Leviticus leaves out all reference to the offerings except to what would seem to be the special burnt-offerings. It is only when we turn to Numbers that we find mention of the sin-offering. This is in keeping with the character of Leviticus passage, which keeps steadily in view the prophetical fulfilment of Gods purposes. The mention of the sin-offering in Numbers, however, reminds us that sin is not yet entirely eliminated. Satan being bound, sin is in abeyance (mark the word) - inactive perhaps; but not finally put away. But Rev. 20: 7-9 indicates that after the thousand years are over there will be a season of intensified Satanic activity once again experienced upon earth, the duration of which it is impossible to say. It is only after this fresh outbreak has been dealt with by Divine judgment, and the final Assize for the living and dead whose names do not appear in the Book of Life has been held that the new heaven and new earth are ushered in.
As regards the burnt-offerings, the different animals sacrificed bear the same typical teaching as all through Scripture. The lamb stands for the constant presentation of the value of Christ, the true Lamb of God; the ram speaks of whole-hearted consecration to God; and the bullock the measure of devotedness in testimony and service for God. All these were used in the unique burnt-offerings of this Feast. Their distinguishing mark lies, however, not in the kinds of animals used, but in their great number.
The two rams seem to bear testimony to the measure of consecration to God on the part of Jew and Gentile alike, the Nation and the nations outwardly united now. It may not refer so much to the individual as to the collective bodies of Jew and Gentile, according as they bear respectively a two-fold witness to this consecration outwardly. The fourteen (2 X 7) lambs declare with reiterated emphasis the absolute efficacy and full value of the work of Christ - again for the Nation and the nations, manifested upon earth [in the millennium] (though understood by faith).
When we come to the consideration of the bullocks, they would seem to suggest personal devotedness to God - but just short of real perfection (thirteen instead of fourteen). As one writer puts it: The Millennium will bring upon earth a joy of worship and thanksgiving, which will be externally at least, almost perfect. There is, however, a gradual diminution of this devotedness towards God. It does not cease from being complete, it is true; but its abundance gradually ceases to manifest itself as it did at the beginning.
This suggestion of decline is in further keeping with the passage in Rev. 20: 7-9 already alluded to above.
Nevertheless, though such devotedness may decline, we are reminded of the perfection of Gods ways as revealed in the seven bullocks, the two rams, and the fourteen lambs, offered on the seventh day - in the earthly aspect of the Feast, the last day.
The eighth day dawns cloudless upon the glories of a renewed universe, sin-freed, filled with righteousness and peace. We hear from the throne the assuring voice as of many waters, Behold, I make all things new, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and be their God.
Great and marvellous are Thy works, Jehovah God Almighty;
Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints.
Who shall not fear Thee, 0 Lord,
And glorify Thy Name? For Thou only art Holy;
For all nations shall come and worship before Thee
For Thy judgments are made manifest. (Rev. 15: 3, 4).
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.
AMEN. EVEN SO, COME, LORD JESUS.