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viii.-x.), or discharging their duties as to food, and the natural defilements and purification (xi.- xv.), ending with the day of atonement (xvi.). Here it is to guard priests and people from other defilements.
Let us now look into the portion before us.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel and say to them, This [is] the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, saying, Every one of the house of Israel that slaughtereth an ox or sheep or goat in the camp, or that slaughtereth [it] out of the
camp, 4 and doth not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to offer [it] as an oblation to Jehovah before the tabernacle of Jehovah, blood shall be reckoned to that man : he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, 5 to the end that the children of Israel bring their sacrifices which they sacrifice in the open field, that they bring them to Jehovah, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace-offerings to Jehovah. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of Jehovab, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet savour to Jehovah. ? And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to demons (or bairy ones, satyrs) after whom they go a whoring. This shall be an everlasting statute to them for their generations. And thou shalt say to them, Every one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that offereth a burnt-offering or sacrifice,' and bringeth it not to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to offer it to
Jehovah; that man shall be cut off from his peoples" (vers. 1-9).
When God set the world that now is after the flood on the new condition of responsible government in man's hand, it was preceded by sacrifice ; and the sweet savour was so acceptable, that Jehovah said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for the thought of man's heart is evil from his youth. The very evil of man is the occasion of grace shown by Him, the unchang. ing God, who used man's evil to bring out what He is in Himself, and is therefore incomprehensible save to faith. God thereon laid down that life belonged to God, and that man was bound to own His claim by not eating the blood. This principle was acknowledged by the apostles, elders, and brethren in Jerusalem, at the very assembly which vindicated the liberty of Gentile believers, but insisted on the restriction under Noah.
Here however it is not God dealing with man, but Jehovah instructing His priests and people in their peculiar relationship to Himself. It is the thing which Jehovah commanded every man of the house of Israel and no others; and it is here imposed on their wilderness estate. Whoever there slaughtered an animal for food without the camp must bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as an offering to Jehovah before His tabernacle. If not, blood was imputed to him; and because he shed blood without thus acknowledging Jehovah, his own life was forfeited :
that man shall be cut off from his people.” It was an aban
donment of Jehovah, and a denial of the ground on which he stood before Him. If he partook of animal food, he was bound to own, what the Gentiles that know not God had forgotten, that life belonged to Jehovah; He demanded the confession of the truth every time one took an animal's flesh for his · food. Nor this only; but as He enjoined, solemnly before His tabernacle. Though for food, it was their duty to bring such to Jehovah and the priest as sacrifices; not of course as a sin-offering, but as expressive of communion with Him, sacrifices of peace-offerings to Jehovah.
Nor was the priest to fail on his side, but to sprinkle the blood upon the altar of Jehovah at the appointed place, and burn the fat for a sweet savour to Jehovah. Hence the profane and selfish wickedness of Eli's sons at a later day in the land, not only morally but in contempt of the law, even in the formal sacrifices and that which was exclusively Jehovah's right (1 Sam. ii. 12-25). As the people were not to count their part irksome but a privilege as Jehovah's people, so the priests were called cheerfully to sprinkle the blood and burn the fat on the altar. How due to Him! how happy and good for His people!
It was a needed safe-guard against idolatry too. For so inveterate a snare for man is it to turn aside to strange gods, that even here Jehovah deigns to notice the danger for His erring people. “And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to the goats (or, satyrs), after whom they go a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout
their generations." So now that we as Christians rest on the one perfecting offering of Christ, it is our place and joy, whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do, to do all to God's glory, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him. It is not only in offering up a sacrifice of praise to God, but as not forgetting to do good and communicate (i.e., to share our goods with others); for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Verses 8 and 9 take in also the strangers that sojourned among the Israelites and denounce the evil of offering a burnt-offering or a sacrifice except at the one divinely assigned meeting-place with Jehovah. How sad for any in professing to own Jehovah with an offering to disregard His goodness in giving a place, and but one place, of outward access to Himself ! How active and wily is the unseen foe in every thing, and not least in the ostensible worship of God to put scorn on the good and acceptable and perfect will of God! So it was in Israel then : so it has ever been, and with not less dismal success, in the church from near the first till our day.
For if there then was the dim and distant unity of the chosen nation urgently maintained when Jehovah brought them into the promised land, and distinctly when the temple was reared, how much more is the unity of God's family insisted on in the Gospel of John and the one body, the church, in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul! And how sad and humbling when Christians shirk their privileges as well as obligations, asking if it be necessary to salvation. God's will and Christ's glory are concerned in it. Is this to be a secondary thing to him for whom God gave His Son ? and whom He has sanctified by His Spirit unto obedience? Is not selfwill sin ? and is it not all the worse because of God's immense grace to us? If we are His children as born of Him, yea His sons by faith in Christ, it surely becomes us to count no call of His on our subjection grievous. Let us remember that, as we are already through the gift of the Holy Spirit, in possession of our individual relationship to God, we are also brought into the one body of Christ. Let faith working by love act on this as a living and present reality. God has set us in our several place in the church. Our obligation is to recognise this with thanksgiving, and act on it without fear or doubt. . “ Whose (God's) house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. iii. 6).