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Chapter 17

 

God’s People — God’s Priests

 

“And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar. And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD. And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it. It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering. All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night. In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD. And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt. For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.”      (Leviticus 6:14-23)

 

We recognize no earthly priesthood. The very thought of calling a sinful man a priest is blasphemous. It is the height of sinful pride and base blasphemy for any man to call himself a priest, a mediator, an advocate, a confessor, between God and men. Call no man father, because God alone is our Father. Call no man master, because Christ alone is our Master. Call no man holy or reverend, because our Savior’s name alone is “holy and reverend.” Call no man priest, because Christ alone is our great High Priest.

 

One Mediator

 

There is only one Mediator between God and men; and that one Mediator is the Man Christ Jesus. He who is my Priest must be able to stand in the holy place on his own merit before God. He must have a sacrifice God will accept for the ransom of my soul. He must be a man who is himself God. He who is my Advocate with the Father must be perfectly righteous himself and one whose righteousness avails for me. He who is my Mediator must be the man who is God’s own fellow. Christ alone qualifies!

 

A Royal Priesthood

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Priest of such merit and efficacy that he has, by the merits of his blood and righteousness and by the power and grace of his Holy Spirit, made all who trust him both kings and priests unto God (Revelation 1:4-6; 1 Peter 2:9). All who are saved by the grace of God enter into that which is within the veil by the blood of atonement and do business with God himself in the holy place, being accepted in, by, and with Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-22). As God’s priests we offer spiritual sacrifices well-pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:15-16).

 

            In this passage Scripture the Holy Spirit gives us a beautiful, instructive picture of the believer’s priesthood in Christ[1]. May God the Holy Spirit teach us how we are to live before and serve our God as “a holy priesthood.

 

The Act of Consecration

 

In verse 14 Aaron and his sons were required to bring their meat-offering to the Lord. This was an act of publicly avowed consecration.

 

“And this is the law of the meat offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before the LORD, before the altar.”

 

            Throughout the Scriptures those who believed God, by one means or another, publicly identified themselves with Christ, his gospel, and his people. In the Old Testament era circumcision identified all the males of Israel as the seed of Abraham, God’s covenant people. And God’s covenant people identified themselves as his people by their sacrifices and services with his people in divine worship. In this Gospel Age God’s elect identify themselves with him and his people by believer’s baptism. Being identified by God the Holy Spirit as God’s elect in the new birth (Ephesians 1:13-14), we publicly confess ourselves his in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:4-6). Should anyone think such a public confession of faith in and consecration to Christ is unimportant, let him ask Moses (Exodus 4:24-26).

 

            The priests were required to take the meat offering from the Israelite who brought it and solemnly present it before the Lord, before the altar, in view of the congregation of the Lord. This meat offering symbolized that he and all that he possessed (his body, his property, his soul, his very life) belonged to God. He publicly declared to God and all who stood before him, “I am not my own. I have been bought with a price. I do, this day, publicly declare that I have given over the rule of my life to God my Savior and Redeemer.”

 

My life, my all I give to Thee,

Thou Lamb of God who died for me.

O may I ever faithful be,

My Savior and my God!

 

The Acceptance of the Worshipper

 

In verses 15-16, we see the acceptance of the worshipper in the acceptance of his offering.

 

“And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 16:15)

 

            The oil was an emblem of God the Holy Spirit. Our acceptance with God is in no way the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of grace in us. We were made “accepted in the Beloved” from eternity (Ephesians 1:3-6). Our acceptance with God is the result of Christ’s blood atonement, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. But there is no knowledge of this acceptance, no knowledge of electing love and blood atonement, until God the Holy Spirit brings the oil of grace into our hearts in regeneration, giving us life and faith in Christ, sealing to us in the experience of grace all the blessings of the grace of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).

 

            The frankincense upon the meat offering represented the sweet incense of Christ’s merit, interceding for us in heaven. Once God the Holy Ghost has called the sinner, giving him life and faith in Christ, the believing sinner is assured of his acceptance with God in Christ, by the merit of his blood and righteousness (Romans 8:33-34).

           

            The meat offering burned upon the altar with the sweet savor of the smoke of the frankincense as a memorial to the Lord declared both the complete consecration of the worshipper and God’s acceptance of him and his sacrifice. When the memorial offering was taken and burned, the worshipper saw a sight that must have both refreshed and overwhelmed his soul. He saw the altar of God smoking and smelled the sweet incense. Breathing the smoke of the incense, he breathed the fresh air of divine approval and acceptance! Seeing God’s salvation in Christ and knowing the blessedness of it, the believing sinner must have shouted for joy (Psalm 132:16).

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            That which remained of the meat offering, the priests’ portion, was to be eaten unleavened in the holy place, as it were, upon holy ground. Since that which was burned with fire was holy, that which remained was holy. There was nothing impure or defiling in it. Here is are ransomed sinners standing upon holy ground, feasting before the Lord.

 

“And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.” (Leviticus 6:16)

 

            When our Lord Jesus Christ was offered as a burnt offering and a sweet savor to God in our room and stead, that which remained (his body the church) was made pure and holy before God, justified, and freely admitted into communion and fellowship with the holy Lord God. In Christ we are worthy worshippers (1 Corinthians 11), worthy of God’s acceptance, and worthy of heavenly glory (Colossians 1:12)!

 

            The holy place” where the priests were required to eat the meat offering was the court of the tabernacle (v. 26) where the altar and laver stood. It is called the holy place for the same reason that Peter called the mount of transfiguration “the holy mount” (2 Peter 1:18), and the place where God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush was called “holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

 

            Like those priests of old eating the sacrifice in the holy place, you and I, God’s priests, stand in the holy place, upon holy ground in Christ.

  • This is the place of sacrifice. — The Altar!
  • This is the place of cleansing. — The Laver!
  • This is the door of heaven. — The Door of the Tabernacle.
  • This is the place of forgiveness.
  • This is the place of God’s presence.
  • This is the place of divine revelation and instruction.
  • This is the place of divine communion.

 

The Gift of God

 

In verses 17-23, the Lord God plainly declares that the salvation portrayed in this and the other sacrifices is the gift of God

 

“It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” (Leviticus 6:17)

 

            This bread was not to be treated as ordinary, common bread. God required that no leaven be mixed with it. It was to be eaten unleavened, because it was God’s gift. All its sweetness, all the relish of its taste was to be derived from this fact: “I have given it unto them for their portion.

 

            Salvation is the gift of God. It takes very little thought to understand the significance of this. God’s Gift is Christ. He is our Portion and our Salvation. He is the heavenly Gift, the gift of God to his people. The sweetness and joy expressed in Hannah’s song was not found in Samuel, but in God who gave him. Therefore, she sang, “My heart rejoices in the Lord, my horn is exalted in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1; Psalms 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; Lamentations 3:24; James 1:17; John 4:10; Romans 5:15-18; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 9:15).

 

            God’s salvation in Christ, indeed, Christ himself is the gift of God to be enjoyed. The Lord God declares, “I have given it as their portion of my offerings.” He thereby declares that all that is in Christ are as community goods belonging equally to God himself and to all his people. — “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s!

 

            What joy there is here! God and his people find satisfaction in and feed upon the same Bread — Christ! If ever a sinner comes to experience the bountiful free grace of God in Christ, he will leap and dance before the Lord like David before the ark.

 

            What grace there is here! The smallest service done for Christ, the slightest gift offered to God by him is declared by God himself to be “most holy!” These were only cakes of flour. Yet, God counted them as valuable in his sight as the sin offering and the trespass offering. Do you see that? — “It is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” Even so, God looks upon the gift of a cup of cold water, a widow’s mite, or an alabaster box of ointment offered to him through faith in Christ for his glory as holy and valuable as Christ himself. He looks upon believing sinners and accepts us in Christ as holy and as valuable to him as Christ himself (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

 

            Nothing evokes reverence and awe like a free gift of great value and sacrifice, given in love, grace, and kindness. — So it is with the Gift of God! Read verse 18.

 

“All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: everyone that toucheth them shall be holy.” (Leviticus 6:18)

 

            This gift was eaten with great reverence. The man eating the gift knew that God reckoned him holy because of Christ. Touching the Bread of Life, eating the Bread of Life, we are holy (John 6:53-58). Nothing is more blissful than the assurance of our acceptance with God, and nothing is more awesome. Bethel was the gate of heaven, the house of God. Yet, no place was more dreadful, more consuming to proud flesh, more demanding of reverence.

 

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” (Psalms 89:7)

 

            Being reckoned holy, God’s people are a holy, royal priesthood, anointed of God for holy service in the holy place (vv. 19-23). Believers are anointed as priests with that anointing which only Christ can give. We have the Holy Spirit as an unction from the Holy One, and by that Spirit we offer continual sacrifice to our God day and night (Philippians 3:3).

 

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night.” (Leviticus 6:19-20)

 

            This meat offering was brought to the house of God fully baked. And believers bring their gifts of worship (“the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour”) as gifts representing their entire consecration to God. True worship is the outflow of genuine devotion. God’s priests bring their gifts of worship fully prepared. Nothing about the worship and service of our God is flippant, half-hearted, or thoughtless.

 

“In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 6:21)

 

            Our worship, praise, gratitude, and devotion to our God arises from and is accepted because of an offering fully consumed upon the altar by the fire of God’s holy wrath.

 

            Verses 22-23 tell us of another priest who offers the sacrifice. As Andrew Bonar put it…

 

“The ministering high priest already in office presented the offering of the sons of Aaron on the day of their consecration.”

 

“And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute forever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt. For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.” (Leviticus 6:22-23)

 

            This sacrifice was for God alone. It was not to be eaten. It pictures Christ our Savior, who gave himself entirely and completely as a sacrifice to God for us. This refers to him alone. He who is our Substitute, our Mediator, our High Priest, our Savior gave himself entirely, body and soul, to the consuming flames of divine justice. — “Our God is a consuming fire!” And the fire of God’s wrath withered our Redeemer’s very soul as he was made to be sin for us and endured for us the curse of divine justice. Yet, he who was consumed by the fire consumed the fire for us. Now, we who fully deserved God’s wrath have free, permanent access to God by him as priests of the most high God (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-22; 13:15-16)).

 

            God’s people are God’s priests, consecrated to God, accepted by God, possessing the gift of God, serving in the holy place, feasting upon the Bread of Life (John 6:53-58).

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] Without question, Aaron and his sons were primarily typical of Christ himself. However, as it is impossible to separate Christ from his people, they are also, in many ways, typical of God’s servants, gospel preachers, (1 Corinthians 9:13) and of God’s people (1 Peter 2:9).