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theless, out of these polluted materials, the Lord forms the altar where atonement for sin was to be made. Shittim-wood (very durable and incorruptible) is spread over with plates of this brass. Is not this fitted to remind us that Christ had the likeness of sinful flesh”- the shittim-wood being veiled and hid by the brass? In the very nature that sinned so presumptuously the Lord Jesus appears; and, wearing that nature, presents in it his offering—only, in his person it was so pure that the “ altar sanctified the gift.” When he arose and ascended, he threw off this obscurity, and was “the golden altar.”
II. The laver, made of the mirror brass, held pure water, which was the type of the Holy Spirit. In our very nature, which in our hands serves only the purposes of sin and vanity, the Redeemer exhibited purity—the very purity of the Holy Ghost, who dwelt in him without measure! He took the brass from the women of Israel. (Exod. xxxviii. 8.) He took our true nature from the womb of the Virgin; and, assuming it to himself, thereby made it holy. And so it became a holy vessel for the Spirit to fill. Here, then, is Jesus made unto us of God " sanctification" as well as “righteousness.” And even when the " sea of brass” appears in Solomon's temple, it seems to be still Christ, who was in the likeness of sinful flesh, the source of the world's holiness.
Perhaps we might take another view of the general arrangement of these Courts. May we not say that there is something here to remind us of each person of the Godhead? In yonder Holy of Holies behind the veil, in light accessible, is the symbol of the Father. Then, at yonder gate, meeting the view of every inquirer, is the Altar of Sacrifice, the symbol of the Son, who said, “Lo, I come.” And between, stands the laver of pure water, the symbol of the Holy Ghost. The whole might be called “Ephes. ii. 18, written in sacred hieroglyphics." By him we have both access through one Spirit unto the Father.
* When in contrast with the gold, brass is a symbol of inferior nature; see Daniel's image. But when in contrast with earth, or crumbling dust, it may
be a symbol of durability; see Zech. vi. 1.
Now, let us hasten forward to the scene before us.
We may view the scene all at once; its details are given afterwards. God commands Aaron and his sons to approach the altar, in sight of all the people, with all the furniture of consecration. Let us see them walking toward the altar, conscious of the awfully solemn situation in which they are placed. The deep thoughtfulness of the father is reflected upon his four attending sons, whose souls cannot but tremble when they see the trembling step of their aged father, though accustomed to meet with God. Moses comes with them, bearing the things needed for consecration. You see the garments (Exod. xxviii. 2) of the priesthood, ready to cover their persons, as the skins clothed Adam and Eve, in type of imputed righteousness. Notice, also, the anointing oil (Exod. xxx. 23), the sight of which reminds the priest of their need of the Spirit of all grace. Close by, at their side, stands the bullock for a sin-offering, on whose head they are this day to lay their sins; and beside the bullock are two rams, one for the burnt-offering—such as their father Abraham offered in room of his son Isaac—the other for consecration (ver. 22). Thus they stand in presence of types that all speak of their sin and their poverty of soul; they cannot lift their eye without seeing sin gazing them in the face. And, to complete all, there is a basket of unleavened bread, which they are to present as a type of
their whole persons and substance being devoted full and entire to God, without mixture of leaven. The whole congregation look on upon this spectacle in silence. It is the priesthood entering on their office! wherein they are to stand ever after, offering Israel's sacrifices and bringing back the news of reconciliation.
Although not so personally interested, yet with a still deeper wonder and concern, the holy congregation of heaven stood round when the Son of God was about to enter on his priestly office, saying, “ Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared for me. ... Lo! I come to do thy will, O God.” (Heb. x. 5-7.)
Moses acts here for God. Philo and some of the Jews call him (vide Patrick) High Priest, because of his actings in regard to the tabernacle. But it is far better to regard him as somewhat like Melchizedek-king and mediator and prophet. He is peculiar, however; for it is not “king and priest,” but “king and mediator.” So many types did it require to set forth Jesus.
Ver. 4. “And Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and the assem
bly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."
No sooner does Moses hear than he goes forth to obey ; and no sooner do the people hear than they are seen gathering themselves at the door of the tabernacle. All Israel was interested in their priesthood, and should know how their priests were qualified for their office; even as all earth should look on and see the qualifications of the great High Priest, who gave himself, saying, “Lo! I come."
Vers. 5, 6. “ And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing
which the Lord commanded to be done. And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water."
Moses stood by the laver, and said, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done." And so saying, he called Aaron and his sons to come near. He then laved the pure water upon them, to intimate that they must be clean and holy. And as the water used was water from the laver, the type signified that it was the Holy Ghost who was to give them this purity. After this day, they needed not to wash their bodies, but only their feet, when it happened that their feet were soiled during services, and their hands, when they were soiled at the altar. Our Lord has been supposed to allude to this in John xiii. 10, “ He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” A man, after being in the bath, is clean; only his feet may be soiled on the floor as he steps along. So, a priest, after this washing of his person on the consecration-day, is clean; only he may need to wash his feet or hands again. Being publicly led by God to the full Spirit, and shown the liv. ing waters, he has a right to return as often as his office may call for a renewal of the application. That cleansing water, or sanctification, needs to be used on all exigencies; and how appropriate, on entering on office, to show him the full supply!
When our Lord used the words in John xiii. 8, he seems to say, “I am doing to you as was done to the priests; if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. I am thus, under a figure, preparing you for immediate duty, like priests in the temple. You are consecrated to me already; but often will you need to apply the water again to your feet.” This is true of all believers who are “priests to God."* * Others
suppose that allusion to the bath there is the true one, and the cleansing is pardon. But at Passover time, temple-allusions were far more natural.
Ver. 7. “And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the gir
dle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith."
Besides purification, the priests must be endowed with peculiar gifts and graces. Our Great High Priest must be not only “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” but also furnished with extraordinary and complete endowments.
The coat and girdle, as well as an ephod and a mitre, of less costly material and less attractive form, were worn by all the sons of Aaron. In them we are taught, that any one who appears as priest at all must be clothed in righteousness and girt for active obedience; and must have, in addition, a special covering for those shoulders which were to bear the weight of a people's guilt, and that brow which was to be lifted up in confession. But the high priest was marked out more peculiarly still. He has as much as the other priests to mark him out; but he has more also—and it is his dress that is specially noticed here.
In speaking of these garments, it is right to classify them, or at least to see the system observed in the arrangement of them.
1. The Ephod is to be considered the original dress of a priest. By itself, and without any other mark, it was the distinguishing characteristic of one bearing a priestly office. Its simplest form was that of a robe, flung over the shoulders (
imis, in the Sept.), made of linen. Perhaps its pattern was that significant clothing of sacrificial skins cast over Adam by God (Gen. iii. 21), to cover his sinful person. The significance of it was, q. d., they need to be covered who approach God. If seraphim