The Mosaic dispensation was legal, ceremonial and typical. |The law having a shadow of the good things to come,| says the author of the Hebrews. But a shadow always points to a substance; and so far as holiness is commanded, and so far as it is shadowed forth in the ceremonial law, we shall find that there is a corresponding substance and reality in the gospel of Christ.
In the first place, if we study carefully the provisions of the Mosaic law, we shall be struck with the many forms of ceremonial uncleanness described therein, and with the |divers washings,| not only of the |hands oft,| but of the whole body, and of |cups and pots, brazen vessels and of tables.| All these point to the fact that God will have a clean people, and a clean people is a holy people. The same thing is vividly exhibited in the distinction between clean and unclean animals, the one kind to be used as food, and the other to be disused. Of land animals, only such as both chew the end and divide the hoof, might then be eaten. And of aquatic, only such as have both fins and scales were to be accounted clean. There can be no doubt that this restriction in regard to food is full of meaning. God help us all as Christian believers to distinguish between the clean and the unclean in a spiritual sense, and not to forget that God will have His people now pure in heart, clean in soul, holy both within and without.
The seal of the covenant with Abraham was circumcision, and this became the perpetual rite by which his descendants were admitted to the rights and privileges of that covenant. |Every male child shall be circumcised.| But this rite was an outward symbol of |a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ| (Col.2: II. R.V.) And in Romans 2: 28-29, we are told that |He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God.| Beloved reader, may you and I know what it is to experience the inward circumcision, made without hands, even the putting off of the body of the flesh. And this is entire sanctification. In the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priests' office, not only were they to be adorned with holy garments for glory and for beauty, not only was the breast-plate to be set with twelve kinds of precious stones, but the plate for the mitre was to be made of pure gold, and engraved with the motto |Holiness to the Lord.| This was to be always upon the forehead of the High Priest, and must signify that Aaron was to be the holy priest of a Holy God, and that the law required a continuous holiness, as most assuredly the gospel does also.
Now, in the most important sense both the priesthood and the sacrifices were typical of Christ. In the mediatorial work of redemption, he was both the priest and the victim. He offered Himself. And no one will deny that He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. The holy priest, under the law typified the holy priest, who is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. But under the gospel dispensation all Christians are priests. |But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.| And we are priests, not for the purpose of expiation, for expiation was completed by the Lord Jesus Christ, when He |bore our sins in His own body on the tree,| but priests to offer up |spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.| And every such priest must needs be continuously holy.
The |spiritual sacrifices| which the Christian priest must offer are, as previously stated, (1) his body, with all its members and capacities. The heart was given to Christ at conversion. It is, however, largely through the body that the soul is led into sin, and it is through the body, also, that the soul must perform its work for Christ, so long as soul and body are united in probation. Hence, the Apostle exclaims in the twelfth of Romans, |I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.| The Christian must offer (2) also his continual testimony. He must |hold fast the confession of his faith without wavering.| |By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.| And, finally (3), the Christian priest must offer the sacrifice of a holy life. |But to do good, and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.| Beloved, let us ask ourselves if we are constantly offering as a holy priesthood, a consecrated body, a confessing tongue and a godly life. Amen.
This subject has already been alluded to under a different head, but it will bear repetition.
In the ceremonial used under the law for the cleansing of the leper, we find an impressive type or symbol of holiness. Leprosy is most clearly and strikingly a type of inbred sin. It is loathsome, unclean, incurable, fatal and hereditary. The leper was driven from society; he could not dwell in the camp nor in the city. He was an outcast. None must be permitted to approach him. They must be warned off by the despairing cry |unclean, unclean.| Nothing can be conceived more desolate or more hopeless than the condition of the leper, unless it be, indeed, the sinner who is an |alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.|
But to the leper, in many instances, came the glad |day of cleansing.| He might not come into the camp, until the priest went forth to him. The priest and no one else could pronounce him clean. And none but Christ has any authority to tell the sinner that he is converted, or the believer that he is sanctified. A clean bird must be slain over living water, another bird dipped into this water flies away toward heaven with bloody wing; the leper is sprinkled seven times, to denote the completeness or perfection of his cleansing, with blood by means of hyssop and scarlet wool bound to a stick of cedar; he must wash his clothes; he must pass a razor over his whole body, and bathe the whole body likewise in water. Certainly, all this needs no explanation. Surely, here is atonement by blood, and cleansing by the washing of water through the word, as plainly described as symbolic language can utter it.
All the bloody sacrifices of the Jewish law, the daily sacrifice both morning and evening, the paschal lamb, the Day of Atonement, the offerings at the various feasts, and innumerable sacrifices offered for individuals or for the whole people, the guilt offering, the sin offering, one for what we have done, the other for what we are, the peace offering, the burnt offering, these, also, all point to the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. In all the sacrifices which we have named, a life was taken and blood was shed. |Almost all things are, by the law, purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission.|
But turn now to the New Testament, and read that |It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.| Read again, |If the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.| Read again, |In Him we have redemption through His blood| -- |Having made peace through the blood of His cross| -- |Ye who are far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ| -- |Being now justified by His blood| -- |That He might sanctify the people with His own blood| -- and especially |The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.|
Here, I insert a quotation from that saintly man, Dr. Edgar M. Levy. |When an oblation for sin was offered up under the old dispensation, the priest was commanded to dip his finger in blood, and to sprinkle it seven times before the Lord. This denoted the perfection of the offering. Nor would the blessed antitype come short of the type. Seven times, at least, did our Lord pour forth His precious blood. He was circumcised and there, of necessity, was blood. He was buffeted on the mouth, and by such brutal hands, that this must needs have been attended with blood. He was scourged, and from Roman scouring there was, of course, blood. The crown of thorns was driven into His precious temples and, surely, this was not without blood. The sharp nails penetrated into His hands and feet, and again there was blood. And one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced His side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.|
The blood of Jesus, then, is the procuring cause of our sanctification as it is of our justification. Glory be to His Name forever for the precious, cleansing blood. And every Christian can heartily join in the immortal hymn of Toplady on the |Rock of Ages,| and especially with the rendering now frequently given to the conclusion of the first stanza, viz.:
|Let the water and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure
Save from wrath -- and make me pure.|
The pure olive oil is mentioned many times in Scripture, and was used for a great variety of purposes. In typology, however, it has special reference to the office work of the Holy Spirit. He is distinctively the Sanctifier, and to be filled with the Spirit is designated by the Apostle John as |the unction| or |the anointing.| The holy anointing oil was to be sprinkled upon the tabernacle and all its sacred vessels. It was also poured upon the heads of prophets, priests and kings, as a necessary qualification for the discharge of their respective offices. There can be no doubt but that this use of the anointing oil and the sweet perfume, which none were permitted to imitate or counterfeit, has a direct typical reference to holiness. The sacred writer, indeed, says as much. |That they may be most holy; whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.| And as all Christians are kings and priests unto God, it is necessary that they also be anointed with the Holy Spirit, as their types in the Old Testament dispensation were anointed with the outward oil. |Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.| A priest must be holy.
We have already spoken of leprosy as a type of inbred sin, and of the requirement of blood-shedding in the cleansing of the leper. But before that cleansing was complete, the anointing oil, also, was to be applied to the leper, who was healed of his malady. As the priest had already touched his ear, his thumb and his toe with the blood of the sacrifice, so now he touched the same parts also with the oil. First, the blood; afterwards, the oil. And thus it is in the wondrous plan of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. First, atonement for guilt and to secure pardon; afterwards, the Holy Ghost baptism for complete cleansing. First, justification through the blood; then entire sanctification through the Spirit.
The anointing oil was also to be applied to the ear, the thumb and the toe of Aaron and his sons in their consecration to the priesthood and, finally, poured upon their mitred heads that it might reach the beard and the skirts of the garments, but by no means touch the flesh. And so, beloved, we must be touched with blood and oil as to our spiritual ears, that we may take heed how we hear and what we hear; and as to our hands that they may do the work of God in all righteousness, and goodness and truth; and as to our feet, that they may run swiftly and beautifully upon the errands of redeeming love; and, at last, upon our heads and running down overall the person to purify and energize the whole man, that we may be |ever, only, all for Him.| Praise the Lord. And this can never happen while the flesh, the carnal mind, is still alive.
Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God and the Son of Man, He who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, was, nevertheless, anointed with the Holy Ghost as a needful qualification for His mediatorial work.
In the synagogue at Nazareth, He read part of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah. |The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He had sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord| -- and here He ceased His quotation abruptly, without saying a word about |the day of vengeance of our God.| It was now a day of grace, not a day of vengeance. But to those who will not accept this grace, that terrible day of vengeance will surely come. Jesus was anointed, and He was holy. His anointed followers must also be holy. They must seek and find the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, they must be sanctified wholly. To be baptized, and filled and anointed with the Holy Ghost is the privilege and duty of all God's children. If we would belong to the royal priesthood, we must be cleansed from the defilement of sin.
Finally, we will allude to the fire symbol. Gold is spoken of in Scripture as tried in the fire. So of silver. |He| (Christ) |shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.| The precious metals will endure the fire, but |dross and tin,| as well as reprobate silver, will and must be consumed. The baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire is a sin-consuming baptism. Fire is a great purifier. It makes the substance which is subjected to it pure through and through, and not like anything cleansed by water, pure as to its surface only. |Our God is a consuming fire.| Oh, beloved, let us give up to the fire all that is for the fire. Let all depravity, all inbred sin, all tendency to depart from God and yield to Satan, be burned up in this fiery baptism. May God put upon all His pardoned children not the blood-mark only, but the fire-mark also.