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He who comes to atone for all our sins has himself freedom from all-completely pure.
"He shall take up the ashes which the fire has consumed," i. e., the ashes of that which the fire has consumed, viz., the wood. By the figure which grammarians call ellipsis, or breviloquence, "ashes" is used for the material out of which ashes came, as Isa. xlvii. 2, speaks of grinding "MEAL." (Ainsworth.) The wood was underneath the burnt-offering.* This being done, the ashes were to be placed by themselves, for a little time, "beside the altar." All eyes would thus see them and take notice of them, before they were carried out into a clean place.
Probably there were two reasons for this action.
1. The fire was thus kept clear and bright, the ashes being removed. God thereby taught them that he was not careless as to this matter, but required that the type of his justice should be kept full and unobscured.
2. The ashes were shown for the purpose of making it manifest that the flame had not spared the victim, but had turned it into ashes. It was not a mere threatening when the angels foretold that Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed for their sins; their doom (2 Pet. ii. 6) is declared to have come on them, "turning them to ashes." So here, all that was threatened is fulfilled. There the ashes lie; any eye may see them. The vengeance has been accomplished! The sacrifice is turned into ashes! Justice has found its object! The lightning has struck the lightning-rod, and is now passed! View Ps. xx. 4, in this light" Remember all thy offerings and accept❞—
* Another rendering is, “The ashes of the fire that has consumed the burnt-offering on the altar." (Horsley.) But this requires a transposition of the words.
turn to ashes-"thy burnt-sacrifice." The Lord's arrows are not pointless; he performs all his threatenings, for he is holy. "O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?" (Ps. lxxxix. 8.)
Ver. 11. "And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place."
The priest, coming out of the sanctuary, lays aside these linen garments, and goes forth out of the camp in another dress. These linen garments are now reckoned polluted; the sin he carried in with him cleaves to them. In another linen dress, therefore-another priestly suit*he goes on to the spot where the ashes were to be left, as memorials of the curse having come on the victim. May this be intended to show that Christ, specially at his death, was to be "numbered with the transgressors?" He seemed to die as one who had no holiness, no righteousness, no innocence. "He made his grave with the wicked." But, casting off this appearance of being a transgressor, as he cries, "It is finished," he is carried to a clean spot. His surety-character appeared-he is buried in Joseph's tomb.t
Some think this must have been a dress of meaner materials than the linen, to represent sin cleaving to him. But where do we ever read of such?
Some propose to change the rendering of Isa. liii. 9, in order to bring out explicitly the fact that Christ died among transgressors, but was buried with the rich. But is there any ground for this proposed change? Whether the original admits of it, is doubtful; for few Jews will be satisfied with the rendering of 1, "his tomb." Would it not be better, far, to keep the present much more obvious rendering
"He made his grave with the wicked (plural),
And with the rich (singular), in his death,” i. e., when he died.
"Unto a clean place;" as in chap iv. 12. In after days this clean place may have been some spot beyond the walls of Jerusalem. In Jer. xxxi. 40, "the valley of the ashes" is mentioned; a place which was used for this purpose, and may have been at the very Calvary where the Great Sacrifice was offered and its ashes laid.
Ver. 12. "And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it (i. e., on
the bosom of the altar;) it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt-offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peaceofferings."
At the hour of his death, behold the providence of God! A rich man, one of the most honorable and esteemed in Jerusalem, a member of Sanhedrim, and a disciple, unexpectedly appears at Calvary. This was Joseph of Arimathea, without exception the most singularly noble character introduced to us in the Gospels. This rich man had been driven into concealment by the plots formed against him by the Jews, on account of his defending Jesus in the Sanhedrim openly. (Luke xxiii. 51.) This is what John says, chap. xix. 38. "Being a disciple," "kekovppevos de dia Tòv póẞov Tv Iovdaiw" not "SECRETLY," for it is not "expμpevos," though even the adverb might mean, as in the Septuagint of Jer. xiii. 17, “in secret places," but "secreted," or forced to hide by reason of their plots. He was the very contrast to timid Nicodemus, bold and unreserved. Behold! then, this man suddenly returns to the city; and finding that all is over, he boldly seeks the body of Jesus, his beloved master. And next, he and Nicodemus-two rich men, but the one all boldness, the other nervously timid-lay the body in its silent tomb. And where is the tomb? "In the place where he was crucified" (John xix. 41); that is, at the very spot where criminals were put to death, and where they used to be buried. Extraordinary as it may appear, this very spot was the spot where Joseph's new tomb was hewn out of a rock! The stony sides of the tomb-the new tomb-" the clean place," where Jesus was laid-were part of the malefactors' hill? His dead body is "with the rich man and with the wicked" in the hour of his death! His grave is the property of a rich man; and yet the rocks which form the partition between his tomb and that of the other Calvary malefactors, are themselves part of Golgotha. Is there not here a fulfilment of Isaiah's words to the letter, and that in a way so unlikely, that no eye could have foreseen it but his who foreordained the whole?
Formerly the fact was mentioned of the fire never being allowed to go out. Here there is mention made of the manner in which it was kept burning. The wood was to be supplied constantly in sufficient measure, and the sacrifice laid thereon. There is an object for the Divine justice to seize upon; and this victim must be shown every morning, exposed to that intolerable flame. Christ bears the vehement heat of Jehovah's altar-the reality of wrath.
There is no "putting out" of this fire.* "The fire is not quenched," is Christ's own expression; perhaps in reference to this type. (Mark ix. 44.) There will be no putting out of these flames in eternity-no waters to quench them-no interference of God's mercy to end them. The company of their ungodly friends will not "put out" any of the torments of the damned; nor shall any intellectual efforts "put them out" by keeping men busy in their thoughts. Christ's agony is the proof of this. If ever God would have "put out" one flame, it would have been in his case. Yet he withheld no suffering"all his waves" were against him; he laid him in "the lowest pit."
Perhaps "burn the fat of the peace-offerings" is introduced here to show how the flame was to be fed. The fat must feed it till it blazes bright and strong, casting its light through the darkness, in view of all the camp. It
* In Song viii. 6, “ vehement flame" is most generally understood to be, "the flame of Jehovah" (r). The love of Jesus is seen in proportion as we see the heat of the wrath which he bore for us. "Love is strong as death-like the flame of Jehovah," i. e., on the altar. How great was the sin of Ahaz, 2 Chron. xxviii. 24, when he shut up the temple! for in so doing he was attempting to extinguish the perpetual fire on the altar, as if thereby to hide from his view the type of God's justice and a coming hell-a sin-avenging God.
was an awful view of Divine justice; it figured out the tremendous fierceness of Almighty wrath. Yet inasmuch as it is "the fat of peace-offerings," a discerning, believing worshipper may find the elements of peace even here. The peace-offering on which that flame has fed declared his reconciliation; so that he can read the assurance of his acceptance even in these flames! Justice fully satisfied, and yet the worshipper standing in peace, is the truth taught us by the blazing flame of this altar. "Our God is a consuming fire."
Ver. 13. "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
Throughout we are emphatically shown that this fire has no end. We are reminded of John's words, "The wrath of God abideth on him" (John iii. 36), and Christ's thrice repeated declaration, "Where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched." (Mark ix.) The word for "go out" is the same that elsewhere is rendered "quenched" (an). The eternal justice of Jehovah shall never cease to find fuel in hell; and never shall it cease to find satisfaction in the Altar of the Great High Priest. Hence we see that an everlasting righteousness was what we needed. (Dan. ix. 24.) "Eternal redemption" is what has been obtained for us. (Heb. ix.
REGARDING THE MEAT-OFFERING.
Ver. 14. "And this is the law of the meat-offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the Lord, before the altar."
The duties of the priest are dwelt upon here. The officiating priest shall take the meat-offering from the worshipper, and shall present it. He shall do this