Page images

shall consider, first, the things that are a shadow of things to come, the body of which is Christ; and next, the admonition of the apostle: "Let no man judge you" in these things.

8. First, meat and drink, or eating and drinking, and the ordinances of the holy day, the new moon, and the sabbath are here described as the shadow of the things of Christ. It is obvious that these rites are not of heathen, but of Jewish, origin; not from a human, but a divine, source. For they are said to be a shadow of Christ. If they had been Gentile rites of man's device, they could not have been a shadow of things to come. Merely human rites can have no authority, and therefore no significance. And they are devoid of any prefigurative import. Proceeding from a fallible source, they are liable to propagate error; and purporting to be an addition and an amendment on that which God has deemed sufficient, they tend only to obscure the meaning and weaken the force of that which is divine. The invention and use of them is therefore a mere presumptuous interference with the prerogative of heaven. The rites here mentioned, however, are declared to be a shadow of things to come, and hence they must be a part of the Mosaic ritual, which was of divine origin.

Meat and drink form an important and significant part of this ritual. In Lev. ii. we have the meat-offering, or oblation. It stands after the burnt-sacrifice (Lev. i.), and therefore presupposes the propitiation for sin as already made. But the meat-offering was handed over to the priest, and therefore did not involve a solemn eating before the Lord on the part of the ordinary worshipper. We meet with this, however, in the peace-offering (Lev. iii.; vii. 11-18). From the latter passage we learn that in the peaceoffering the worshipper partook of the victim offered with the unleavened cakes, one of which was presented as a memorial to the Lord, and with the leavened bread, which was prepared for this special occasion. Now, the peaceoffering was to be voluntarily presented by those who were

at peace with God through the blood of the atonement made in type by the burnt-sacrifice. And the common meal after it was a symbol of the communion of the saints in the blessings of salvation. Hence these blessings came to be specially indicated by the bread which was then solemnly caten before the Lord.

The drink-offering, or libation, is brought to view in Num. xv., from which it appears that with a stated meatoffering there was to be a drink-offering of a fourth part of a hin of wine for a lamb, a third part for a ram, and a half for a bullock. This was to accompany every offering, and among others the peace-offering. And, from Deut. xiv. 23-27, it is manifest that the worshipper, after presenting his peace-offering, partook not only of meat, but also of drink, when he appeared before the Lord with his household as accepted through the atonement and entitled to share in the blessings of salvation. Hence we gather that bread and wine were appointed emblems, not strictly of atonement, but of salvation through an atonement, and that partaking of them was a type of the enjoyment of salvation by the worshipper.

Hence meat and drink, and in particular bread and wine, are a shadow of Christ. He said unto the Jews: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (John vi. 32, 33). He then says explicitly of himself: "I am the bread of life he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John vi. 35). Hence we perceive that Jesus is both meat and drink to the soul. It is said of wine that it cheereth God and man; and how can it cheer God so much as by typifying the blood of Christ that cleanseth from all sin? Bread and wine appear at a very early date as the staff life. On the return of Abraham from the rescue of Lot, Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, came forth to meet him with bread and

wine. It is proper here to repeat that these elements express not the propitiation for sin, but its consequent blessings, namely, the pardon, peace, and privileges belonging to the ransomed people of God. They are, therefore, a shadow of the benefits of the redemption that is in Christ.

9. The second class of things that foreshadow Christ are thus described: "In respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath." The word "respect" here means the part, portion, or ordinance appertaining to each of these occasions. It is not the set time in itself that is typical of Christ, but the ordinances appointed for it, and giving character and significance to it. The holy day refers to the annual festivals of the Mosaic ritual, of which the chief are three the feasts of unleavened bread, of weeks, and of tabernacles. The feast of unleavened bread begins the cycle of the year. On the night on which the children of Israel were to depart from Egypt, they were commanded to slay a lamb, to sprinkle its blood on the lintel and the side-posts of the door, and to partake of the roasted flesh, with loins girt and staff in hand, ready for the march. On that night the destroying angel passed over Egypt. He passed over the households unharmed where the blood was on the lintel and side-posts of the door. But where there was no blood on the lintel and side-posts, on the morrow the first-born of man and of beast was found dead. The passover, then, is the feast of redemption, and hence Christ is called "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."

The feast of weeks was at the end of the grain harvest, as that of unleavened bread was at the beginning of it. The offering peculiar to this feast was the two wave-loaves of wheaten flour. Bread is the staff of life. And Jesus says of himself: "I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If a man eat of this bread, he shall live forever." As Christ gives legal life, that is, the right to life, by the passover in which the lamb of propitiation was slain, so he gives spiritual life by the Holy Spirit of life descending on the apostles and the church. The feast of weeks was simply

[ocr errors]

the complement of the feast of unleavened bread. They are related as the meat-offering to the burnt-sacrifice, or as the feast to the preceding sacrifice in the peace-offering, and therefore form two parts of a great whole. In like manner the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of pentecost was the consequence of the atonement made by the Son of God, after which he ascended to the Father, and sent down the promised Spirit.

The feast of tabernacles represents a new stage in the typical history of redemption. The vintage, as well as the harvest, has now been completed, and the ingathering of the fruits of the earth has followed. The time for enjoying all the rewards of human industry is come. It is a season of repose, of gladness, of gratitude, and of enjoyment. It is typical of the end of all things earthly, of the realization of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. As the passover foreshadows redemption from death, and the feast of weeks restoration of life, so the feast of tabernacles prefigures pardon, acceptance, and everlasting inheritance with the Father. Thus these three festivals represent the three stages of salvation of Christ - redemption by his doing and dying, renewal of life by his Spirit and power, and reception into glory by the good-will and word of his Father. They form, therefore, a singularly full and particular shadowing forth of the things of Christ.

The new moon is distinguished chiefly by its sacrifices, of which we have an account in Num. xxv. 11-15. They consist of a manifold burnt-sacrifice and a kid of the goat for a sin-sacrifice. It is needless to say more at present than that these are shadows of things in Christ.

The sabbath had also its proper burnt-sacrifice of a lamb in the morning and another in the evening, besides the continual burnt-sacrifices of every day. Thus was the great propitiation of Christ foreshadowed every day, every week, every month, and in a cycle of festivals every year. The ordinances on these festal occasions represented the great atonement itself, and the meat and drink the participation

in that eternal life which flows from it. And thus the year, the month, the week, and the day were consecrated to the God of salvation.

10. The admonition of the apostle concerning all these shadows of Christ is: "Let no man, therefore judge you." This gives rise to several reflections of very considerable importance with respect to the change in the economy of grace. In the first place, the apostle does not formally abrogate these ritual observances. He merely says, Let no man judge you in these matters. He simply makes them optional, with the Jew, as well as with the Gentile. He could not do more. These rites were a divine institution, and therefore allowable, especially for those who had observed them from their youth. The Jews were zealous for the law in proportion to the ardor of their nature. The apostle himself complied with some of the Jewish forms. But they were no longer obligatory, when the purpose for which they were instituted was served, and the reality which they prognosticated was come. He therefore tacitly permits their observance by such as were attached to them from long habit or free choice. But he refuses to admit this observance to be morally binding on those who have in Christ the substance of which they are but the shadow. In this gentle way must these Mosaic rites be allowed to pass into disuse.

We learn from this admonition that ceremonial forms, even of divine appointment, are secondary in importance to moral principles. This is a maxim constantly insisted upon in the Old Testament. When Saul pleaded that the best of the sheep and of the oxen taken in the expedition against Amalek were spared, contrary to the express command of God, only that the people might offer a sacrifice unto the Lord their God, Samuel made the indignant retort: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. XV. 22). When our Lord wished to rebuke the formalism of the scribes and pharisees, he brought up before them an

« PreviousContinue »