For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2004 James Melough

17:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


17:2.  “Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, saying,”


God’s speaking to Aaron, the representative of grace, through Moses the representative of law, continues to emphasize that His grace is not extended to the detriment of His law: the Lord Jesus Christ died as the Substitute for every lawbreaker, thus enabling God, on a basis of perfect justice, to pardon every transgressor who will confess himself a sinner, and trust in Christ as his Savior.


“... hath commanded.”  What God was about to say to Israel was a command, not an option; nor is obedience an option during this age of grace.  The disobedience of the unbeliever will result in his being cast into eternal torment in the lake of fire; and that of the believer, in loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ.


17:3.  “What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,”


17:4.  “And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people;”


Christ is typified by the ox, lamb, and goat, so that the death of any one of these animals is a type of His death; and the man who killed one of them in any place other than at the door of the Tabernacle, represents anyone who fails to present Christ to God, that is, to trust in Him as his Savior.


The imputation of blood guiltiness to the offender, which resulted in his expulsion from the camp of Israel, is the typological picture of the condemnation of the man who refuses to trust in Christ as Savior, see Hebrews 10:28-29, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”


17:5.  “To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the Lord.”


Today’s counterpart of Israel’s sacrificing in the open field, is the so-called worship of professing, but unbelieving Christendom, whose multitudes are described as those “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof ....” 2 Timothy 3:5.


The equivalent of Israel’s bringing their sacrifices “unto the door of the tabernacle ... unto the priest” is that scriptural form of worship in which true believers assemble on the first day of the week, around the Lord’s table, to commemorate His death in the breaking of the bread, and drinking of the cup, as recorded in Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread ....” 


At that commemorative feast, the risen Lord presides as our Great High Priest, taking our worship, and presenting it to the Father, as the hymnist has written, “To all our prayers and praises, Christ adds His sweet perfume; and love the censer raises, these odors to consume.”


“... for peace offerings.”  Only those who know Christ as Savior, and who therefore know “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” Philippians 4:7, have the ability to worship God as He Himself has commanded, that is, “in spirit, and in truth,” John 4:23.


17:6.  “And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savor unto the Lord.”


Concerning the blood it is written in verse 11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”


The need to sprinkle it at the door of the Tabernacle is the symbolic warning that apart from faith in Christ’s shed blood as the only remedy for sin, none can hope to enter heaven.


Relative to the fat, see comments on 16:25.


17:7.  “And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring.  This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.”


Israel had turned aside from Jehovah, and were worshiping the idol gods of the Gentiles, relative to which God has declared, “... the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils ... and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils,” 1 Corinthians 10:20.


The literal idols may be gone, but the idolatry continues, the gods of the world being sports, education, music, art, etc., the sacrifices to these “gods” being the millions of dollars paid to support the stars of these distractions with which Satan lures the deluded devotees down the broad and crowded way to hell and the lake of fire.


17:8.  “And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice,”


17:9.  “And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the Lord; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.”


In verses 3-4 the reference was to the slaying of animals; here it is to the presentation of an animal for a burnt offering, i.e., the offering of it to God in worship.  The need to bring the animal to the door of the Tabernacle is the typological warning that a man cannot offer acceptable worship to God until he has first presented Christ as his sin offering, i.e., has accepted Christ as his Savior.  The Lord declared Himself to be, “the way, the truth, and the life:” and warned, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6, and again, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved ....” John 10:9.


He who attempts to worship, without having accepted Christ as his Savior, is engaging in what is abominable to God; and as the Israelite offender was cut off from among the people, so will his present day counterpart be excluded from the company of those who belong to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, i.e., he will be excluded from heaven, and consigned instead to hell and the eternal torment of the lake of fire.


17:10.  “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.”


Blood speaks of a life given up, that of every clean animal or bird being symbolic of the blood of Christ, of which it is written, “... ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Peter 1:18-19.


God’s prohibition against eating blood declares the inestimable value He sets on the blood of His Son: even that which merely symbolizes it is proscribed as food.  He would have men realize the truth that the blood of Christ has transcendent value in that it alone can make atonement for sin, so that blood, whether of man or beast, is not to be prostituted to common use.


17:11.  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”


Since the blood of man and beast is the very essence of physical life, God’s having appointed that of the clean beast or fowl to be placed on the altar, as the expression of Israel’s worship, and since each of these creatures is a symbol or type of Christ, the truth being symbolically demonstrated is that His blood alone, that is, His death, could make atonement for sin.  If men were to live, He must die, for all men are under sentence of death because of sin, but He, begotten not by human generation, but by the Holy Spirit, was sinless, and therefore not subject to death.  Such was His love for ruined sinful men however, that He was willing to take our sins upon Himself as though they were His own, and then expiate them by dying in our stead as our representative, it being written, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:20, and again, “For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.


We should note that blood is the very essence of physical life, i.e., “of the flesh,” but the blood of Christ is the prerequisite of spiritual life.


17:12.  “Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.”


“... stranger” in the present context is a synonym for Gentile.


17:13.  “And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.”


The prohibition applied not only to blood drained from any creature, but also to that which was within its body.  The blood was to be drained, and covered with earth, the burial of the blood being the symbolic announcement of what is explicitly stated in Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”


17:14.  “For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”


This continues to emphasize the necessity of obedience relative to God’s proscription of blood as food: the violator was to be cut off, whether by expulsion from the camp of Israel, or by death, being unclear, though the latter seems the more likely.


17:15.  “And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.”


Neither that which had died of itself, nor that which had been killed by another beast, was to be eaten, because it would not have been properly bled; but the punishment was less severe than that imposed on one who killed a beast or bird, and ate without having drained the blood.  His offence was less serious because he himself hadn’t killed the beast or bird.  It may be that he was poor, and ate out of necessity rather than with deliberate intent to ignore God’s command, hence the lightness of his chastisement.


His washing his clothes, and bathing of himself, speak of repentance.


17:16.  “But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.”


This rebel represents the sinner who refuses God’s method of cleansing, i.e., one who refuses to trust in Christ as his Savior, and who must therefore enter hell rather than heaven.

[Leviticus 18]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough