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A Call to Voluntary Consecration
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by thy estimation... These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.” (Leviticus 27:1-34)
As the Lord God our Savior, the Triune Jehovah, has proved himself utterly consecrated to us in redeeming and saving us by the sacrifice of his own dear Son, so we ought to utterly consecrate ourselves to our God. — That is the message of this last chapter of Leviticus.
This 27th chapter is all about vows and gifts made to God. Whether you call them vows, or resolutions, or determinations, or promises, they all amount to the same thing, and in this chapter, the Lord God gives specific instructions which we need to understand.
I must point out immediately that in all the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments alike, God never commands a vow. Vows are never mandatory, never obligatory, upon the people of God. We do not have to promise God anything in order to get something from him. God is a Giver. He delights in giving. That is his nature (James 1:17). Because God is love, he delights in giving.
“Love ever lives
And ever stands with open hands
And while it lives, it gives
For this is love’s prerogative
To give and give and give.”
The Lord God is always giving. His gifts are always voluntary. And all that we do for God our Savior must be voluntary, constrained by nothing but his love for us and in us. — “The love of Christ constraineth us!”
Yet, there is something innate in human beings that makes us want to vow, to promise, to make resolutions to God. When he left home, Jacob made a vow to God. Jephthah made a vow and sacrificed his only child to the Lord. And Hannah made a vow and consecrated her only son, Samuel, to the Lord.
The Scriptures speak of many others who made vows to the Lord. The Lord never requires such vows. But the Scriptures everywhere teach that once a vow is made before God, it is to be kept (Numbers 30:1-2).
Without question, these laws have reference to our Lord Jesus Christ, that one who honored God, swearing to his own hurt as our covenant Surety and changed not (Psalm 15:4; Proverbs 6:1-2). Our all-glorious Redeemer consecrated himself to God as his righteous Servant and swore that he would do his will, laying down his life as our sin-atoning Substitute, thereby saving us from our sins and reconciling God’s elect to him (Hebrews 9:12; 10:1-14).
But Leviticus 27 is specifically talking about you and me. The vows and gifts spoken of in this chapter are matters of voluntary consecration. The firstlings of the flocks, and herds, the firstfruits of the fields, and the tithes are specifically exempted as things belonging to God already (vv. 26-30). So the Book of Leviticus closes with a call to voluntary consecration.
Leviticus is truly, a radiant jewel in the crown of Holy Scripture. It stands as a fruitful tree in a rich garden of delight. Blessed are they who gather wisdom from its heavily loaded boughs.
These last words of the Book come from Moses’ pen with solemn weight. They seat us, as it were, on some high mountain, from which we survey the traversed plain through which we have come. — “These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai” (v. 34). They bring the whole Book into view, urging us to survey the entire thing and count our gains before we move onward. Let’s do that. Let’s look over the Book and count up our gains. Then, I will give you the message of this 27th chapter.
Christ the Theme
One fact is as obvious as it is paramount. The Book of Leviticus is about our Lord Jesus Christ and his great work of redemption. We read it aright only when we read it in the light of his presence, seeing him upon each page, hearing him point to each picture, identifying himself in the picture.
Have we thus found him and walked with him through this luscious ground? Is he more clearly seen and more fully known? Is he more fully enshrined in our hearts? Is he the mainspring of our lives? As Henry Law put it, “Christ is the juice, the life, the heart-blood of Leviticus.” If we do not read the Book this way, a blinding veil is over our eyes and we grope in darkness amid the glorious rays of the Sun of Righteousness who shines upon these pages of Inspiration. Christ is our Sacrifice, Altar, Priest, Mercy-seat, Satisfaction, Light, Guide, Bread, Acceptance, Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, Redemption, God, and Savior,
God is Love
Seeing Christ as the theme of this Book, we see that our God is love. The Son reveals the Father. The gift proclaims the Giver. Here golden letters write God’s name of love. Hear it, O Heaven! Rejoice O Earth! God’s infinite mercy, grace, and love for perishing sinners shines forth brightly in redemption’s plan. He calls his Son to bear the sinner’s sins. He lays all help upon one mighty helper. Such a scheme is as a flood of grace bursting from springs of love. The first thought and the last is love. Because this blessed Book of Leviticus exhibits Christ, it calls us to adore our God as Love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10, 19).
“Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man, a scribe by trade —
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the oceans dry!
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky!”
God is Just
But there is more to the gospel than the love of God. The love of God chose us. The love of God sent his Son to die for us. But God’s love could never have saved us apart from the satisfaction of his justice. The Book of Leviticus, with all its sacrifices, describing the altar, the priest, and the mercy-seat, tell us that he is both “a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:20-25; Romans 3:24-26).
Desire To Bless
This Book is also a marvelous display of God’s desire, determination, and delight in blessing sinners with grace who fully deserve his wrath. Commandment after commandment, picture after picture, ceremony after ceremony, sacrifice after sacrifice, promise after promise sets before us the gospel of God.
Types and figures are profusely given. Every method imaginable is used to picture Christ. Here are clear models of his saving work. Part after part moves like a parade of grace before our eyes. One is exhibited. Another comes. And then another follows. But all have one purpose and design — to set Christ crucified before our eyes, that we may behold him. In every portion of this Book, “Christ is All.” We cannot read it aright and doubt God’s mind. Throughout these 27 chapters the God of all grace says, “I will be gracious, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin,” because “He delighteth in mercy!”
Who can harden his heart against such mercy? Who can draw back from such grace? Who can resist such love? Who can read these pages and follow the signposts at every intersection pointing to Refuge, and yet go to death and eternal destruction in hell? — Only he that being often reproved hardens his heart.
God’s Method of Grace
Leviticus also graphically displays God’s method of grace. It shows us our Savior and shows us how he saves. This is a blood-stained Book. Its ceremonies are full of death. Its pages resound with the groans of slaughtered beasts.
Behold, Christ is here! He cries not, nor lifts up his voice in the streets. He makes no effort to compromise justice. He seeks neither mitigation nor reprieve. He grants that his poor, ruined, doomed, damned people are lost, totally and helplessly undone. He writes condemned on each one. He acknowledges that each has justly earned eternal hell, endless agony, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. He acknowledges, in every type, Jehovah’s glory in demanding death.
Yet, he claims right to save by substitution. He pleads the covenant, which gives him the right of redemption as Kinsman and Surety. He comes as our representative man by eternal compact. The sinful seed are flesh and blood. He takes our nature. He assumes our flesh. And thus he becomes our Kinsman-redeemer.
If flesh must suffer, he is flesh. If the soul must agonize, a human soul is his. Thus he is wholly fit to bear our sins in his body, to suffer, and to die.
He leaps into the place of the guilty. With eager heart he mounts the altar. His people’s sins are piled upon him and made his. The hateful load is bound upon his back and his heart. He endures all the shame, ignominy, and torment of God’s holy, unmitigated wrath and justice that we deserved, until every debt is fully paid, every crime is completely cancelled, and every sin totally blotted out of the Book of God’s Remembrance! He drinks the cup until every dreg is drained. The sword of justice is sheathed within his heart. And he cries, triumphantly, “It is finished!”
Salvation hangs upon him — His person! — His obedience! — His death! Until this is seen, our souls drift hopelessly toward shores of woe. Oh, it is worth ten thousand times ten thousand worlds, to be assured that death has died, that vengeance is satisfied, and our sins are all gone, our debt is fully paid, and that he who did it all is the Lamb of God, who “shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied!”
It is the joy of joy to see no frown in God, no fury, no anger, no displeasure, no look but tenderness and smiles and approval. This is, as heaven begun — to see hell’s portals closed — its chains all broken — its fires quenched! It is ecstatic rapture of soul to behold an open passage to a glorious, eternal home — a blessed rest — a reign with God forever.
Here, in Leviticus, in this book of law, mercy, grace, and love are written in blazing gospel letters, shining brightly in the face of our crucified Savior. There is the altar, standing prominently before all. What is that, but the cross of Christ? Victims without number are slain. What are they but pictures and types of the Lamb of God? A stream of blood flows without ebb. Each drop displays the wounded Savior and the dying Lamb. Priests spare not the death blow. The uplifted arm shows justice with the avenging sword. The blazing fire consumes the sacrifice. Here all demands of wrath and justice are met. God meets sinners in the tabernacle at the mercy-seat, declaring, “God has reconciled sinners to himself by the sacrifice of his own darling Son.” All that is here revealed points directly to the Curse-bearer hanging upon the cursed tree. The whole Book speaks of Christ taking away guilt, of God inflicting wrath upon him, of sinners ransomed by his death, and of wrath drowning in the God-man’s blood.
Here is a question with which I pray the Holy Spirit will pierce your heart and melt it to repentance, granting you faith in Christ. — What is your profit from this Book? Each sacrifice allures you to Christ. Each ceremony brings the Savior before your eyes. Each altar is a call to Calvary. — “Why will ye die?”
Are there no charms in the crucified Christ for you?
“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.” (Lamentations 1:12)
Is the all-lovely unlovely in your eyes? Is the all-precious counted vile by you? Dare you scorn the gift of God? Dare you cast heaven’s glory to the wind? Dare you trample under your feet the blood of heaven’s Darling?
Here is Christ. Here is the Savior you need. Believe on him and live forever. Read this Book again. Its pages cry, “Sin need not be your ruin.” There is a death which saves from death. There is a stream which cleanses every stain. There is a blood sacrifice that redeems! A Savior who saves! If by his grace you lay hold on him, all is pardoned. Leave not Leviticus, until you see salvation’s glorious scheme, until you see the God-man bleeding in your place, until you see all your transgressions laid on him, punished in him, and put away by him.
Assurance, Comfort, and Joy
If you have eyes to see, thrice-happy you are! Blessed of God you are! You are God’s child, heir of God, and joint-heir with Jesus Christ! Here you pant, you long, you strive, you thirst, you hunger, you pray for deeper knowledge of the Savior. More and more intensely you pursue him. For you, Leviticus is a boundless mine. The more you dig, the richer is the ore.
When Satan whispers that your sins are vile, these many sacrifices pass in review. Each puts a seal to the reviving truth, that God’s own Lamb has born your guilt away and your accuser slithers away in silence.
You hear of coming judgment and wrath. You know that hell is a terrible reality. But every altar shows the fierce flame of justice consuming an offering, that the offender may be free. You see here that all the vengeance, fury, and wrath you deserved expired in Immanuel’s agony.
You seek renewed assurance that God’s smile is upon you. These sacrifices forever declare that enmity is no more, that reconciliation is complete.
Your piercing eye would read the language of Christ’s heart. These types and pictures unfold it. Each death proclaims Christ death for you. He counted no sufferings too great to redeem you. He waded through all the billows of God’s wrath, through all the flames of hell, through all the depths of torment, to set you free and cleanse you from all stains, rescue you and to save you. His love for you exceeds all bounds. Leviticus displays its costly deeds and proves its truth. Faith claps her hands at every ordinance and shouts, “Behold, how he loves me!”
By these things, by all these commandments, sacrifices, and ordinances revealing our Savior, the Lord God calls us to consecrate ourselves to him. That is what we have come to in chapter 27. This chapter speaks of the “singular vow,” or the voluntary act whereby a person would devote himself or his property to the Lord (vv. 1-3).
If a person consecrated himself, his beast, his house, his field, or his child to the Lord, the gift was to be valued by Moses. It’s worth was to be determined by his estimation. Moses, representing the claims of God, was called upon to estimate each case according to the standard of the sanctuary. If a man made a vow, he must be tried by the standard of righteousness.
In Exodus 30:15, we read, in reference to the atonement money, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.”
In the matter of atonement all stood upon one common level. Thus it shall ever be. High and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, old and young, male and female, bond and free, Jew and Gentile, black and white, all have one common title. “There is no difference.” All stand alike before God on the same ground, by the same merit, by the infinite merit and value of Christ’s precious blood. There are vast differences in us all by nature and by providence; but our title to divine acceptance is one — Christ’s blood! — “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less.” Nothing more could be given; nothing less could be taken. — “We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” — What mercy! The blood of Christ makes heaven ours!
But, in Leviticus 27 the issue is the worth of the gift brought to God. Moses had a certain standard from which he could not descend. He had a certain rule from which he could not swerve. If anyone could come up to that, he and his gift were accepted. If not, he was rejected with his gift.
What about those who could not meet the standard, who could not rise to the height of the claims set forth by the representative of divine righteousness? Read verse 8 and rejoice. — “But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.”
In other words, if a sinner undertakes to meet the claims of righteousness, then he must meet them. But if he knows himself to be poor, utterly incapable of meeting those claims, he has only to fall back upon the redemption and grace represented in God’s priest (Christ and his Sacrifice). And the priest would receive him and his gift, though they are altogether unworthy in themselves of God’s acceptance.
Moses represents the claims of divine righteousness. The priest represents the provisions of divine grace through the blood of Christ. The poor man who was unable to stand before Moses fell back into the arms of the priest.
Thus it is today and forever. If I cannot “dig,” I can “beg.” I take my place before God, a beggar, a mercy beggar. Will you? The issue is not “what can I do, but what will God do?”
“Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days.
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise!”
God is glorified in giving grace. We are blessed in the gift (Ephesians 1:3-7). And God accepts us in his Son (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10). — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — When our poverty causes us to seek the boundless riches of God’s grace in Christ, we will gladly echo our Master’s doctrine. — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Grace will never allow anyone to go away empty. It meets the very deepest need of our souls and is glorified in meeting it. Moses, the Lawgiver, has proved us poorer than his estimation. Christ, the Grace-giver, takes us upon the merit of his blood atonement, the priest’s estimation. Upon that basis, I call upon myself and you to freely, voluntarily consecrate ourselves to God (Romans 11:33-12:3).
That is what the Book of Leviticus is all about. It is God’s call to sinners by the sacrifice of Christ, upon the basis of his finished work, to consecrate themselves to him by faith.
No drops of grief can e’er repay
The debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do!