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

24:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


24:2.  “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.”


The lamps were those on the golden candlestick or lampstand which stood on the south side of the Holy place in the Tabernacle, illuminating the whole compartment.  The south in Scripture is always associated with faith, and obviously there must be enlightenment before a sinner can exercise faith and be saved.


Olive oil is a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit who seals believers as belonging to Christ, and Who anoints them for service.  Its being used here specifically “for the light” points to the fact that He not only seals believers: He also enlightens them, enabling them to understand the deeper spiritual meaning woven into the fabric of the literal language of Scripture.  The natural man, the unbeliever, lacking that spiritual anointing, cannot understand spiritual things, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”


“... pure oil olive beaten.”  The fact that there could be no oil apart from the beating of the olives, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that the giving of the Holy Spirit had to be preceded by the “beating” of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, as He Himself said, “... if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you,” John 16:7.  The “beating” at Calvary had to precede His return to heaven, for apart from His death there could be no salvation for sinful men.


“... to burn continually” is more accurately rendered “continuously,” for continually admits the possibility of interruption, but continuously does not.  The ministry of the Holy Spirit is continuous because He himself is eternal.  The candlestick or lampstand, with its seven ever-burning lamps, is a figure or type of corporate testimony, the continuous burning declaring in symbol that God never has been, and never will be, without a testimony to Himself in the earth.


The combination of the oil and the light represents the truth that it was as anointed with the Holy Spirit that Christ was the Light of the world.


24:3.  “Without (outside) the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the Lord continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.”


“... outside the vail of the testimony” was the first compartment of the Tabernacle, the vail or curtain separating it from the most holy place into which the High Priest alone could go, and that on only a rare occasion, as for example, on the day of atonement. 


The maintenance of the lamps was the exclusive responsibility of Aaron, but since they represent individual testimony; and he (Aaron), the Lord Jesus Christ our Great High Priest, the truth being declared is that He is the One Who is responsible for the maintenance of a testimony to Himself here on the earth.  It is He, who through the Holy Spirit, gifts each believer, and directs our service.


We should note also that the order of service is described as being “from the evening unto the morning,” whereas we describe the passage of time as being from morning to night.  “... evening to morning” is also the same order as is recorded relative to the renovation of the earth in Genesis 1.  We tend to go from light to darkness, but God’s great desire is that men should move spiritually from darkness to light through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hence His designation of time as being from evening to morning.


24:4.  “He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the Lord continually.”


To “order” the lamps was to arrange or set them on the central shaft.  This continues to declare the Lord’s unceasing watchfulness over the churches and the individuals comprising them, their dependence on Him being revealed symbolically in that the branches sprang from and were supported by the central shaft of the candlestick.


24:5.  “And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.”


The fine flour represents the Lord’s sinless humanity, and the twelve cakes represent believers as being possessed of His very life and nature, the sin in our lives emanating from the old Adamic nature still within us side-by-side with the new nature received at the moment of conversion.


It has been estimated that each loaf weighed approximately six pounds.


There being twelve of the cakes declares that we are responsible to be obedient to the Lord, for twelve is the biblical number of human responsibility under government.  Our responsibility is further emphasized in the “tenth deals” of fine flour per cake, for, as twelve is the number of the governed, ten is the number of the governor, in the present context, God, His law being presented in the two tables of the law, the ten commandments.


24:6.  “And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.”


Two is the biblical number of witness or testimony; and six - one short of the perfect number seven - is the number of man, failure, weakness, incompleteness, so that these two rows of six loaves each, speak clearly of believers as witnesses for God, in spite of all their human frailty.  (In the OT age that witness was Israel, and today it is the Church). This however, doesn’t preclude their being also a type of Christ Who became man so that He could die to expiate man’s sin, and make Himself available to men as the Bread of life, the true Bread Who came down from heaven.


The “pure table” was the table of shewbread comprised of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold.  It represents the sure foundation upon which every believer’s hope rests: Christ’s sin-atoning death, and God’s immutable promise of pardon to every believer. 

The golden overlay of the table speaks of the glory that has accrued to God as the result of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice.


24:7.  “And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”


The fragrant incense either upon or between each row of bread represents the pleasure God finds in Christ, and in believers, for He sees us, not with all our imperfections, but in the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ, all of His righteousness being imputed to us.  Its being on the bread “for a memorial” declares the truth that it is the remembrance of what Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished for believers that is fragrant to God, continually delighting His heart.


The replacement of the old loaves with new ones each sabbath day may possibly speak of the fact that as each generation of believers passes, another generation arises to take its place.


Its being “an offering made by fire,” which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, teaches that only that in our lives which is produced by the Holy Spirit, is pleasing to God, everything else being the product of the flesh, and therefore abominable to Him.


24:8.  “Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.”


Since during this present dispensation the Jewish sabbath has been replaced by the Lord’s day, the typological picture here is of the worship offered by believers gathered together on the first day of the week to eat the Lord’s Supper, and thus commemorate His death.  It’s being “set in order” reminds us that everything said and done at that meeting is to be according to Scriptural order, at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and not according to the vagaries of human imagination.


24:9.  “And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.”


What was offered was to be eaten by Aaron and his sons, but since eating is synonymous with satisfaction, and since Aaron and his sons represent Christ and believers, the truth being declared here symbolically is that at the Lord’s Supper He and His redeemed are both satisfied: He with them, and they with Him.  But the repeated “made by fire” continues to emphasize the truth that everything said and done at that memorial feast is to be at the Holy Spirit’s impulse.  The energy of the flesh is to be denied any expression.


24:10.  “And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;”


The Israelites were forbidden to marry foreigners, just as believers are forbidden to marry unbelievers, see 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers....” 


Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in defiant independence of God, so that the Israelitish woman married to an Egyptian, is a type of a believer who marries an unbeliever.  It is little wonder therefore that this half-breed son should have been found fighting with an Israelite in the camp, for the enmity between them portrays the inveterate hatred of the flesh against the Spirit, as declared in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other....”


24:11.  “And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed.  And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)”


The third commandment forbids the taking of God’s name in vain. 

To blaspheme is to speak irreverently of God, and in this present instance the offender went beyond blasphemy: he actually cursed God.


His mother’s name, Shelomith, means peaceableness, and in other contexts pacifications; and her father’s name Dibri means my word.  The good associated with these meanings however, is nullified by her disobedience in having married an Egyptian, and the consequences of her rebellion are revealed in the character of the son who was the product of that marriage.  He blasphemed her God.  It happens not infrequently that the same sorry tale must be told in connection with almost every such mixed marriage, i.e., between believer and unbeliever.  Human nature being what it is, the children, more often than not, pattern their lives after that of the unsaved parent, because almost invariably the saved parent who had little interest in obeying God relative to marriage, has little interest in instructing the children in the things of God.


24:12.  “And they put him in ward, that the mind of the Lord might be shewed them.”


Their patient waiting upon God for direction is the pattern for all of us relative to the path to be followed when there is uncertainty in connection with any event of our lives.  Unfortunately impatience frequently robs us of that guidance, to our loss and sorrow, that of Saul as recorded in 1 Samuel 13:8-14 being a dramatic example of such impatient folly.


24:13.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,


24:14.  “Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.”


The laying of their hands on the head of the blasphemer was the symbolic expression of their complete agreement with God’s judgment, and their willingness to vindicate Him publicly by executing His sentence against the guilty man.  Little of that same zeal for the preservation of God’s glory is exhibited today, there being, on the contrary, often a greater desire to justify those whose sinful lifestyles dishonor God.


Relative to this The Liberty Bible Commentary states that “Since the sin of the man could have involved the entire community in punishment, what guilt there may have been in the community was transferred to the sinner by the laying on of hands....”


24:15.  “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.”


To curse God would be to go beyond disobedience: it would be to emphatically despise Him, and to completely reject His right to govern our lives.  Since the offender mentioned above was put to death, it is clear that the words “shall bear his sin” are to be understood in the same sense relative to every such case of blatant rebellion.


24:16.  “And he that blasphmeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put death.”


The reiterated declaration of the sentence of death was to emphasize the seriousness of the offence, which was to be executed not only against the native born Israelite, but also against the stranger, i.e., the Gentile living in the land.  God would have all men know that He is Lord, not just of Israel, but of the whole earth, and is to be honored as such.


Nor should anyone imagine that this law was applicable only to that distant day.  It is operable today also, and the fact that God doesn’t immediately strike down every offender should not be taken to mean that He no longer cares, that He will never execute judgment against the guilty.  He does care, and He will execute judgment; but He is patient, and willing to give men opportunity to repent and save themselves.  He has however, appointed a day for the execution of judgment, and on that day everyone who has died unrepentant will be cast into the eternal burning of the terrible lake of fire, hence the imperative of being reconciled to Him now while it is still the day of grace, that reconciliation being effected the moment I confess myself a sinner, and then trust in Christ as the Savior Who has died in my guilty stead for my sins, God’s assurance to every such penitent being conveyed in the words of Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” and again in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


Stephen, on the false charge of blasphemy, was stoned to death, Acts 7.


24:17.  “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”


It may at first seem strange that this verse should have been inserted here abruptly, and seemingly out of context; but it is in perfect context.  God authorizes only the judicial taking of life, the killing of an individual under any other circumstance being murder, and requiring the judicial execution of the murderer.


24:18.  “And he that killeth a beast shall make it good, beast for beast”


This obviously refers to the accidental killing of another man’s animal, and required the person involved to replace it with one of equivalent value.


All of this declares the high value God places on life, even that of an animal.  All life is precious in the eyes of Him who is the Author of life.


24:19.  “And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor: as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;”


24:20.  “Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.”


“... blemish” means disfigurement, injury; and it is unclear whether it refers to an injury caused deliberately or accidentally.  This is the inflexible demand of the law, and how different it is from what the Lord enjoined under grace, see Matthew 5, particularly verses 38-48, His teaching being summed up in the words, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ....”


What is here enjoined on believers however, is not to be construed as God’s having abolished capital punishment.  He hasn’t.  It is instructive to note that the Lord didn’t deliver the repentant malefactor from death, even though He assured him of going to paradise.  He must suffer the legal consequences of his sin; nor does his having to die by execution imply anything less than complete forgiveness by God.  Those who today would abolish capital punishment impugn God’s nature by making themselves seem more merciful than He. 


The fact is that the imposition of the death penalty, which reveals to the man the date of his death, affords him time to repent, accept Christ as his Savior, and thus assure himself of heaven.  Countless multitudes, ignorant of the date of their death, have no incentive to prepare themselves to meet God, with the result that they die in their sins, and plunge into hell.  Man is never more merciful than God!


24:21.  “And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.”


This is a virtual repetition of verses 17-18, so that the comments on those verses apply here also.  There is no readily apparent reason for the repetition, unless it be to emphasize the importance of the command and by so doing, could it be that God desires to show us that we are not like the animals, as many would contend; but, that we have been created in His image (Genesis 1:27)? The life of the beast could be replaced by another. But, the murder of a man, who had been created in the image of God, demanded life for life because of the great affront to the very image of God.


24:22.  “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.”


God is the God of the Gentile as well as the Jew, and His governmental standard is the same for both.  There isn’t one method of salvation for Jews, and another for Gentiles, as it is written, “Is he the God of the Jews only?  Is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith,” Romans 3:29-30.


24:23.  “And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones.  And the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.”


The man who had so arrogantly sinned was stripped of all arrogance that day when he was led outside the camp to die by the command of the God whose name he had blasphemed.  And so will it be with every man who despises the name of Jesus, and refuses to trust Him as Savior. 


We are given no clue as to the thoughts which occupied his mind as he died by the judgment of God, under the hail of stones, but surely there must have been bitter regret of the folly that had brought him to such an end, his remorse having been prolonged in the torment of hell throughout all the years since then, and to be continued for ever in the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.


That same awful fate awaits every man who dies without having trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

[Leviticus 25]


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