After the Feasts comes a new section of this third book of Moses, which we now propose to consider. It consists of a rather miscellaneous group of particulars not yet laid down in the book.
The first words treat of the provision for the candlestick and the table before Jehovah continually.
" 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel that they take unto thee pure beaten olive oil for the light to light the lamp continually. 3 Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, shall Aaron dress it from evening to morning before Jehovah continually: an everlasting statute throughout your generations. 4 Upon the pure candlestick shall he arrange the lamps before Jehovah continually "
" 5 And thou shalt take fine wheaten flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof; each cake shall be of two tenths. 6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the pure table before Jehovah. 7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon [each] row; and it shall be a bread of remembrance, an offering to Jehovah. 8 Every sabbath day he shall arrange it before Jehovah continually on the part of the children of Israel: an everlasting covenant. 9 And it shall be Aaron's, and his sons'; and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it [is] most holy unto him of Jehovah's fire-offerings: an everlasting statute" (vers. 1-9).
It is important for us to feel the part which God devolves on His children and expects from them, unless He be indifferent to His honour or their blessing. So it is here with His people. What a privilege and responsibility for the sons of Israel! They could not enter the holy place: the covering or curtain forbade it save for the priests. But on all the children of Israel lay the charge of providing pure olive oil beaten for the light of the sanctuary outside the veil of the testimony to cause the lamps to burn continually.
The meaning of the type is plain. That light was the exhibition of God in Christ who is the True Light. Light He was on coming into the world which lay in darkness; He was the light of men; He sheds His light on every man. There the Fathers are as dark as the Friends; for nothing can be more preposterous than that every man is lighted. On the contrary, every one, as man, is still darkness: so the apostle declares even of the elect in their natural state. And so terrible is this spiritual darkness that even the presence of the divine light did not dispel it, as darkness yields to light naturally: the darkness in that case did not apprehend the light. Nor is it without moment to see that it is on His coming into the world that the light so manifests every man. The common rendering, as in the A.V., is both grammatically and dogmatically false. It would require the article to mean "that" cometh. As anarthrous, it must mean "on coming." Yet "on coming" has no distinctive force here, save as said of the true Light; but as predicated of Him, it is full of interest and instruction. Said of man, it not only adds nothing beyond that he is a man, who must therefore have already come into the world; but it might impart the strange notion that man is thus enlightened on his coming into the world, which yields no good sense.
Here however it is the same Light, yet not as when on earth He was "the light of the world." He is the light shining in the sanctuary, the light of God for those who have priestly title to enter there during the darkness which rests on the Christ-rejecting people. For as we are told in the detail of ver. 3, "in the tent of meeting Aaron shall order it from evening to morning before Jehovah continually." It is the function of the high priest (and we know Who He is that thus acts in heaven itself), not in the hand-made holies or the figures, but in the true. We know also what the oil denotes which caused the light to burn. It was the Holy Spirit given without measure. It was in that Spirit that the Lord met the tempter; in that Spirit that He was anointed for His service of every kind; in that Spirit that He offered Himself spotless to God. So was He raised from among the dead; so when risen did He charge the apostles whom He had chosen; so the Revelation speaks of Him as having the seven Spirits of God, not only in dealing with the churches, but in view of the crisis of judgment that follows to bring in and rule the world-kingdom. It was His perfection as Incarnate never to speak or act otherwise where we who have the same Spirit so often and sadly fail. Here we have Him under the figure of the candlestick displaying the light on high.
Again, the pure table with its twelve loaves of fine flour represents Him as the heavenly food of the priests, Him Who was also the manna that came down for the people on earth. And as the spiritual fulness was aptly couched under the seven lamps of the candlesticks, so the twelve loaves pointed to the human or administrative fulness of Christ. We readily see the same principle in Israel, in the twelve apostles, in the complement of Israel and of Judah in the Revelation, in the gates etc. of the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Jesus was also the bread of life as man; and if Israel see this not yet, any more than the light of heaven, we whom by grace He made priests delight in both. For what nourishment is there not in that glorified Man whom we henceforth know and feed on (2Co_5:16-17)?
Nor must we omit to take into account the pure frankincense upon earth now, for a memorial, our acceptance in all the grace of Christ, the fragrance before God. We see the sabbath too here, as it followed the manna, as historically shown in Ex. 16. It is on Christ that rest for us depends, not on the Spirit in us, which is our help and power; but He, Christ, is our peace before God. Only the priests eat of Him thus, and they only in a holy place. "For it is most holy unto him of the fire-offerings of Jehovah:" a statute for ever, as was the ordering of the candlestick, both figures of Christ in God's presence.
We cannot but see, if we believe the testimony of God, how rich as well as suited to need and condition is the provision of His grace in Christ. We are met, when outside in the folly and wretchedness of sin, by mercy that adapts itself to wants so extreme; and in truth we want every thing that is good, evil ourselves and delighting in it, yet not without shame and compunction and remorse. The goodness of God leads us to repentance. The grace of Christ, while manifesting to us our ruined and guilty estate, attracts and wins us to God, by His suffering for our sins.
But thus brought into the peace of heavenly light, we learn at first to our wonder that we are made priests to God, more wonderful, considering what He is and what we are, than that we should also be made kings. And there we, made free of the true Sanctuary, have the joy and blessing of Christ as its light in all fulness. There too we have the gracious provision for the sustenance and refreshment of the new man, in that plentiful store of heavenly food which He as the golden table thus spread is meant to furnish those whom grace has called into this place of nearness before Him. This is not what is called "the mystery concerning Christ and concerning the church;" but a precious part of Christian privilege that accompanies it, as made known in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the First Epistle of Peter.
BLASPHEMY JUDGED WITH OTHER EVIL
In marked contrast with the provision for the full light of Christ to shine uninterruptedly in the sanctuary, till the morning without clouds, during the night, and in connection with the pledge of blessing for all Israel, stands the public insult to Jehovah, which is here recounted with His judgment on it.
" 10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, but who [was] son of an Egyptian man, went forth among the children of Israel; and this son of the Israelitish [woman] quarrelled with an Israelitish man together in the camp. 11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the Name, and cursed; and they brought him to Moses (and his mother's name [was] Shelomith, daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan). 12 And they placed him in ward, that they might decide at the mouth of Jehovah. 13 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 14 Lead the blasphemer outside the camp; and all that heard shall lay their hands upon his head, and the whole assembly shall stone him. 15 And thou shalt speak to the children of Israel, saying, Every one when he curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah shall certainly be put to death: all the assembly shall certainly stone him; as well the stranger as the homeborn, when he blasphemeth the Name, shall be put to death. 17 And he that smiteth any man mortally shall certainly be put to death. 18 And he that smiteth any beast mortally shall make it good, life for life. 19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour as he hath done, so shall it be done to him, 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. 21 And he that smiteth a beast [mortally] shall make it good; and he that smiteth a man [mortally] shall be put to death. 22 Ye shall have one law; as the stranger, so the homeborn; for I [am] Jehovah your God. 23 And Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they led the blasphemer outside the camp, and stoned him with stones. And the children of Israel did as Jehovah commanded Moses" (vers. 10-23).
The first portion of the chapter is the clear type of Christ, not only as the light of the heavenlies during the dark night for Israel on earth, but as the pledge by-and-by of their twelve-tribed fulness through the grace of Christ. Here we have not the shadows of good things to come, but the sad fact of Jehovah's name blasphemed meanwhile on the earth, where the responsibility lies to be His witness in reverence and righteousness and truth. Here is the sample, alas! in this one man of Israel after the flesh, the son of an Israelitess and an Egyptian father: an unhallowed union, the fruit of which reviles the holy Name. No doubt all flesh is as grass; but Israel was to be holy to Jehovah. And surely this is the most weighty step a woman (symbol of a state) takes in this life naturally. But Shelomith married an Egyptian, one of that oppressing world out of which Israel was brought with a high hand by Jehovah.
It is not that sin of idolatry for which they were to be swept off the land into Assyria; and especially even the royal tribe, when it apostatised, into Babylon. Here it is defiance, cursing the true God, or blaspheming Jehovah. This became emphatically true, when, weaned meanwhile from idols, they disdained and blasphemed the Name in the Messiah, Himself also Jehovah their God. Therefore are they given up nationally to a worse than Babylonish captivity. They are under the curse of Him they reviled, and the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost (1Th_2:16).
Therefore also, as they despised Him who suffered for sins, all their other sins, as in the verses that follow, come up against them. They have not even the temporary relief in the blood of calves and goats offered for their transgressions. They have in God's righteous judgment neither king nor prince, sacrifice nor statue, ephod nor seraphim. But the heavenly reality, the dead but now risen Christ, in the tabernacle not made with hands, is the sure token that more than all they lost they will find provided by Jehovah in the mercy that endures for ever, when they shall say, Blessed He that cometh in the Name of Jehovah. For repent they surely will, as it is the promise of divine grace, and turn again, that their sins may be blotted out; so that there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of Jehovah, and that He may send the Messiah that has been fore-appointed to them. He is now in the Sanctuary above, where the heavens received Him, after His atoning work was done, till times of restoring all things, of which God spoke by His prophets since the world began. The security is on high where only faith's eye can reach; but it is unfailing before God, and awaits the moment when the gathering out of every nation as well as out of Israel is complete to join the Lord in the air. Then renewed dealings follow on to form a godly remnant of Jews, His missionaries to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations before the end come, when the day of Jehovah ensues for the judgment of the quick throughout all the habitable earth, and He shall reign over Israel in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever, that is as long as earth endures.