“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”
Moses is addressed, the Lord is speaking in law, not in law mingled with
grace as was the case when He addressed both men.
“Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the
holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy
name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the Lord.”
Aaron and any
of his sons who were ceremonially unclean by reason of the defiling things
listed in the following verses, were not to officiate in the presentation of
any of the offerings brought by the people. The practical lesson being
taught in this is that the believers, the spiritual counterparts of those
priests, are not to participate audibly in offering worship at the Lord’s
Supper if they are
aware of any known sin unconfessed, for it is to
be remembered that those brethren who do participate audibly are not only
presenting their own worship: they are acting as the spokesmen for the whole
“Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations,
that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto
the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from
my presence: I am the Lord.”
“... the holy
things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the Lord” were the
offerings brought by the people; and as noted above, the officiating priests
were the OT counterparts of those brethren who participate audibly in the
presentation of worship at the Lord’s Supper, and who thus act as the
representatives of the whole congregation. It is imperative that such men
live exemplary lives, for otherwise there is the likelihood of their being
viewed as hypocrites.
“... cut off
from my presence,” is variously translated “removed from My presence, shall
be outlawed from My presence, shall be discharged from the priesthood.” In
this present context “cut off” does not seem to mean that the man was
“What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue;
he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth
any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;”
Leprosy is the
scriptural symbol of sin in general; and “a running issue” represents the
actual sins proceeding from our old sinful natures. The Church-age believer
portrayed here is the professed believer who is living in sin; and as the
leprous Aaronic priest was not permitted to eat the offerings presented by
the people, neither is his present day counterpart, the believer living in
sin, permitted to eat the Lord’s Supper.
death is the result of sin, the Aaronic priest who had even the slightest
contact with a corpse was defiled, and was therefore forbidden to eat any of
the offerings until he had followed the prescribed procedure for cleansing.
The practical lesson for us is that we are to be holy, and where we have
committed sin, we must confess, repent, and forsake the sin before eating
the Lord’s Supper, or attempting to render any form of service.
“... or a man
whose seed goeth from him,” whether in legitimate sexual intercourse, or in
involuntary nocturnal emission, the loss of semen rendered the man unclean,
for semen contains the germ of physical life, that is the life of the flesh,
about which Scripture has nothing good to say, see e.g., Romans 7:18, “For I
know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.”
It is to be
remembered however, that virtually all of these legal proscriptions imposed
under the law, were for the age of law only, and were the OT typological
presentation of transcendent spiritual truths operative during this present
age of grace.
“Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean,
or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;”
“The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall
not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.”
significance of creeping things
see comments on 11:43.
contagion of sin is emphasized symbolically in that even to touch an unclean
creature or man rendered the individual unclean.
effected by washing in water during the age of law, points to the truth,
that during this dispensation of grace, cleansing comes, not by literal
water, but by the application of the written Word, as declared in Ephesians
5:26, “That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the
washing of water by the word.” We keep ourselves clean by reading and
obeying the written Word.
As the defiled
Aaronic priest might not eat of “the holy things” (the sacrifices) unless he
washed his flesh with water, neither may we eat the Lord’s Supper unless we
are “washed with the water of the Word,” i.e., until we have examined
ourselves under the light of Scripture, confessed to God, repented, and
forsaken every known sin.
“And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the
holy things; because it is his food.”
In the literal
language of this verse is conveyed a far more profound spiritual truth than
is readily apparent on first reading. The sunset which marks the end of
each literal day is a figure of the end of each man’s earthly life; and as
the priest was declared clean at sunset, so will it be with every believer
when he has finished his earthly course, and his redeemed soul, released
from the prison house of his corrupt earthly body, takes its flight to God’s
is synonymous with satisfaction, the cleansed priest’s eating “of the holy
things” after sunset, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that only
when each believer has finished his earthly course, and has entered heaven,
will he be completely and eternally satisfied, as the Psalmist has declared,
“I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness,” Psalm 17:15.
erroneously applied this cleansing to the water of baptism, which however,
has a very different spiritual significance. Water baptism is the ordinance
in which the believer - already cleansed of all sin the moment he trusts in
Christ as Savior - confesses that he has not only died vicariously in Christ
(portrayed symbolically when he goes under the water), but that in
association with his resurrected Savior, he has also risen up out of
spiritual death (portrayed in his coming up out of the water), to walk
henceforth as a new creature possessed of Christ’s life and nature, as
declared by Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which
I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of (in) the Son of God, who
loved me, and gave himself for me.”
“That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to
defile himself therewith: I am the Lord.”
See comments on 17:15 for the
spiritual significance of this command.
“They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and
die therefore, if they profane it: I the Lord do
is a rule or law; and profanation, in the present context, is failure to
show reverence for God’s law, death being the penalty for disobedience.
Inasmuch as this applied to those who were God’s earthly people, the lesson
for believers today is that sin and death are spiritual Siamese twins, for
though believers will live for ever, the solemn lesson being taught here is
that time which they spend in sin is time in which they might as well have
been dead, for that misspent time will bring corresponding diminution of
reward at the Bema.
sanctified is to be set apart for a holy purpose, and in the case of
believers it means to be set apart to live their lives for God’s glory,
those who fulfill the purpose of their sanctification earning for themselves
an eternal great reward, as it is written, “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,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
Obedience is the truest expression of love for the Lord, He Himself
having declared, “If ye love me, keep my commandments ... He that hath my
commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth
me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest
myself to him,” John 14:15-21.
“There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest,
or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.”
the term stranger is frequently used to designate both the Gentile,
and the unbeliever, so that the truth being declared here is that an
unbeliever is not to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
sojourner of the priest was a guest in the priest’s house. He too was
forbidden to eat the holy food, and the lesson being taught is that neither
unsaved family members, nor unsaved guests or servants of the believer, are
to eat the Lord’s Supper, the NT warning being, “For he that eateth and
drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord’s body,” 1 Corinthians 11:29. The Lord’s Supper is
proscribed to all except true believers.
“But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he
that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.”
servant here represents the believer, of whom it is written, “For ye are
bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit,
which are God’s,” 1 Corinthians 6:20; and again, “Ye are bought with a
price; be not ye the servants of men,” 1 Corinthians 7:23. As the purchased
servant was permitted to eat the holy bread, so are we who have been
purchased by the precious blood of Christ, privileged not only to eat the
Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week, but to feed our souls daily on
the “finest of the wheat,” i.e., Christ presented in the written Word.
“... he that
is born in his house,” also represents the believer, of whom it is written
that he is born of the Spirit, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” John 3:6. We have not only
been bought: we have also been “born of the Spirit,” into God’s family, and
not as servants, but as His royal sons and daughters, whom He has made heirs
and “joint heirs” with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, Ro 8:17.
“If the priest’s daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat
of an offering of the holy things.”
and wife are said by God to be “one flesh,” see Ephesians 5:31, the marriage
of the priest’s daughter to a “stranger,” i.e, to a Gentile, made her also a
“stranger” in God’s sight.
principle applies in this NT age, as is declared in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17,
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship
hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with
darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he
that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God
with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I
will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they
shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,
saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
“But if the priest’s daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child,
and is returned unto her fathers house, as in her youth, she shall eat of
her father’s meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.”
marriage bond was severed by the death of the unbelieving husband, or by
divorce from him, and where the widow had no child, and had returned to her
father’s house, she was permitted to eat of his food again, i.e., of the
offerings that had been presented to God by the worshiping Israelites,
because circumstances had returned her again to virtually the same state as
had existed prior to her marriage.
This seems to
indicate that the typological picture here is of the penitent return of a
formerly disobedient believer. Every such penitent saint is to be received
back into the fellowship of the local church. For a NT example of such a
case, see 2 Corinthians 2:6-8.
“... but there
shall no stranger eat thereof” continues to emphasize that the unbeliever
has no place amongst God’s people. This may not however, be construed as
teaching that we are not to have a genuine care for the souls of the
unconverted. We are! Every effort is to be made to lead them to Christ,
but that effort does not extend to receiving them into the fellowship of the
local church. This, in fact, is the very error of which many local churches
are guilty today; and the tragic result is that the unbelievers thus
received are deluded into believing that they are saved and on the way to
heaven, when they are instead still on the way to hell, but now blinded as
to their true state and terrible danger, and thus unlikely ever to be
awakened and saved.
“And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth
part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy
thing” was what had been presented to God by a worshiper, and which was
therefore to be eaten only by the priests. When one other than a priest
partook of it, even inadvertently, he was guilty of wrongdoing, and was
responsible to expiate his sin by making full restitution, plus an
additional fifth of the value of the thing taken. Five, incidentally, is
the biblical number of responsibility.
here may represent the believer who presumes to participate audibly in the
presentation of worship at the Lord’s Supper, at the impulse of the flesh
rather than of the Holy Spirit. His impoverishment caused by his having to
restore the thing, plus an extra fifth of its value, may portray his “loss
of face,” i.e., his humiliation resulting from the censure of the elders for
his breach of scriptural order.
“And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel,
which they offer unto the Lord;”
In the present
context, to profane the holy things, means to treat irreverently the
offerings presented by the children of Israel; and the lesson is that
reverence is to mark every activity at the Lord’s Supper. There is to be
reverential fear of speaking or acting there, other than at the impulse of
the Holy Spirit. In spite of this warning however, it is painfully apparent
that such care is conspicuously absent at many of the celebrations of that
most important feast, the activity of the flesh being far more evident than
that of the Holy Spirit.
“Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy
things: for I the Lord do sanctify them.”
to declare the imperative of vigilance on the part of the priests to ensure
that none but they the priests ate the holy bread. The same care is
required today on the part of elders to ensure that only obedient believers
eat the Lord’s Supper. Negligence results in those who partake of the
Lord’s Supper unworthily, eating and drinking damnation unto themselves, as
it is written, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” 1
“... for I the
Lord do sanctify them.” It is God Who sets believers apart for Himself, and
as those thus sanctified (set apart), they are responsible not to “bear the
iniquity of trespass,” i.e., incur guilt by daring to sit at the Lord’s
table without having first confessed, repented of, and forsaken every known
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”
“Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and
say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers
in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his
freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt
“Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of
the sheep, or of the goats.”
Moses is addressed, the Lord is speaking in law, not in law mingled with
grace as is the case when He addresses both men, see
comments on 21:24; and in His
prescribing a specific ritual to be followed in the presentation of Israel’s
offerings He is declaring that whether it be in the age of law or that of
grace, the worship of His people is to be presented according to the order
He Himself has appointed. Compared to the minute details governing Israel’s
worship under law, that of the Church, at first glance, appears to be
virtually free of detail: but it isn’t! God is no less careful relative to
the worship of His people today than He was in connection with their worship
then. The great difference is that now our worship is to be presented at
the impulse of the Holy Spirit.
remember however, that in Israel the worship of only a very small minority
was impelled by genuine love for God, that of the majority being simply the
mechanical performance of an outward ritual. And so is it still. The vast
majority of professing Christians engage in a loveless ritual which they
call worship, but only a tiny minority “worship the Father, in Spirit and in
truth,” as He desires, John 4:23, their worship being impelled by love, and
expressed at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, not of the flesh.
Sadly, much of
what passes for worship today is clearly impelled by the flesh rather than
the Holy Spirit.
requirement that each burnt offering - whether of cattle, sheep, or goats -
be an unblemished male, has much to teach us.
animal is a type of Christ the sinless One; and its being presented as a
burnt offering in which the whole carcase went up in smoke to God, reminds
us that Christ’s sacrifice was first for the Father’s glory, and then for
the expiation of men’s sins.
“But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be
acceptable for you.”
here is easily read. A physical blemish in a sacrificial animal would have
been the symbolic announcement that Christ had sin of His own. But He had
none. He was sinless, and that fact must be presented typologically in each
animal used to represent Him. It must be unblemished.
“And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to
accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be
perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.”
presented as a peace offering in fulfillment of a vow, or simply offered as
an expression of love for God, the animal must be perfect, its unblemished
state being symbolic of the sinlessness of Christ.
“Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye
shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them
upon the altar unto the Lord.”
animals could not be presented for any type of offering, whether trespass,
sin, peace, or burnt offering. They would have been rejected by God, for
their blemished condition would have implied symbolically that Christ was
“Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in
his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it
shall not be accepted.”
animal might be offered as a freewill offering, i.e., as an expression of
love or gratitude to God, the deficiency of the animal being indicative of
our inability to properly express our gratitude for all His goodness to us.
Such an animal
however, was not acceptable as payment of a vow made to God. For example, a
man might have vowed to express his gratitude for God’s granting some
special petition, and in such a case it is highly unlikely that he would
have vowed to give anything less than a perfect animal; but then when the
petition was granted, he might have been tempted to offer a blemished
animal. It would not have been acceptable, for it would have indicated that
his avowed gratitude was less than sincere.
“Ye shall not offer unto the Lord that which is bruised, or crushed, or
broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.”
other translations indicate that the injuries mentioned here were to the
testicles of the animal thus precluding the possibility of its reproducing
itself; in other words it was as good as dead, for with its death its line
would end. Such an animal therefore could not be a fitting type of Christ
who is perfect, and the eternally existing Source and Sustainer of all life.
“Neither from a stranger’s hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any
of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them:
they shall not be accepted for you.”
stranger, i.e., a Gentile living amongst the Israelites, offered a sacrifice
to God, his sacrificial animal must also be unblemished, and for the same
reason as is stated in verse 24: every animal offered was a type of Christ.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”
“When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be
seven days under the dam: and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall
be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”
days under the dam” means that a newborn animal was to be suckled by its
mother for seven days, and was not acceptable as a sacrifice to God until
after those days were expired. The first seven days of the animal’s life
and close association with its mother portray symbolically what is
associated with the old earthy nature, and consequently unacceptable to God.
Since seven is
the scriptural number of perfection or completeness, and since each
sacrificial animal was a type of Christ, another spiritual lesson may be
that Christ was not to die until He had come to mature years. It was not by
compulsion, but by His own free will, and with a perfect knowledge of all
that His death involved, that He voluntarily laid down His life on our
behalf, to expiate our sins.
“And whether it be cow or ewe (female sheep), ye shall not kill it and her
young both in one day.”
As the female
speaks symbolically of submission, so do the cow and ewe portray Christ’s
perfect submission to the Father’s will, even unto death. The fact that
mother and young were not to be killed on the same day, meant that even
though one was slain, the line was not cut off on that same day, and in this
God is declaring symbolically that Christ’s death did not cut off His line.
Having voluntarily submitted Himself to death, He demonstrated by His
resurrection that it lacked the power to hold Him. He arose in triumphant
power as its mighty Conqueror.
“And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer it
at your own will.”
comments on verse 19 apply here also.
“On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave
none of it
until the morrow: I am the Lord.”
requirement that the sacrifice of thanksgiving be eaten up completely on the
same day as it was offered seems to teach the truth that the return of
thanks to God should be instant and instinctive, for tardily expressed
thanks lacks the genuine fervor and sincerity of that which is spontaneous.
“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the Lord.”
As used here
keep means to guard carefully. God’s injunctions are not to be
treated lightly. A man’s life or death hinges on his response to God’s
“Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the
children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you.”
means to desecrate, dishonor, show contempt for; and hallow means to
sanctify, set apart, revere, honor. The Israelites were to live so as to
ensure that God’s name would be revered amongst the nations, for He had
hallowed them, their obedience being the only thing required to ensure His
blessing. The sad fact is however, that by disobedience they had caused His
name to be blasphemed, and had thus unwittingly made themselves the heirs of
chastisement rather than blessing.
incumbent upon us to so live as to ensure that God’s name will not be
blasphemed, but honored as a result of our obedience.
“That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.”
liberation from Egyptian bondage is a figure or type of our spiritual
deliverance from thraldom to Satan, sin, and death.
It might have
been expected that gratitude for their emancipation would have been
expressed in obedient lives, but it was far otherwise. They repaid His
kindness with blatant rebellion; and surely honesty compels us to confess
that we have aped their conduct, the enormity of our ingratitude being
disclosed in the fact that our deliverance cost the Lord Jesus Christ the
terrible agony and death of Calvary, yet we have repaid His kindness, not
just with indifference, but also with deliberate rejection of His right to
control our lives.
“I am the Lord” is the emphatic reminder that in a coming day every
unbeliever will be arraigned before that same Lord Jesus Christ at the great
white throne, where the degree of each rebel’s eternal punishment in the
dreadful lake of fire will be proportionate to the measure of his
disobedience on earth.
Nor is the
believer’s disobedience without eternal consequences. He can never lose his
eternal life and certainty of being for ever in heaven, but the measure of
our eternal reward at the Bema will be proportionate to the degree of our
obedience here on earth. That knowledge ought to have a sanctifying effect
on our lives.