Search word: Retrieve verses, illustrations, etc
Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
F B Meyer
Leviticus 1:9, 13,
A sweet savour unto the Lord.
How sweet the offering up of the Son was to the Father! “Christ also hath
loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God
for a sweet-smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). The burnt-offering was an
imperfect type of his entire devotion to his Father’s will. When Jesus saw
the inability of man to keep the holy law, and volunteered to magnify it,
and make it honorable; when He laid aside his glory, and stepped down from
his throne, saying, “I delight to do thy will, O my God”; when He became
obedient even to the death of the cross — it was as sweet to God as the
fragrance of a garden of flowers to us.
Let us never forget the God-ward
aspect of the cross. The sacrificial fire fed on every part of the
sacrifice, on the inwards as well as the carcase; so did the Holy God
delight to witness the spotless and entire devotion of the Son to the great
work in which the entire Godhead was most deeply interested. The fragrant
graces of Christ were made manifest on the cross, and are perpetuated in his
There is a sense also in which our
consecration to God is fragrant and precious. When we see his claims, and
yield to them; when we submit to his will, and commit our lives wholly to
his direction; when we offer and present ourselves to Him, a living
sacrifice, keeping nothing back — his heart is gladdened, and his fire of
complacency feeds on our act. Always count on this; you may feel no thrill,
and see no light, but reckon on God, believe that He accepts what you give,
and will crown your sacrifice with the fire of Pentecost. Who today will
surrender to God, and become an offering of a sweet savor?
Fine flour, and He shall pour oil upon it and put frankincense thereon.
This type is only true in its fullest
extent of the blessed Master; but as we are to be conformed to his image, we
may humbly take the ingredients of the meat offering as indicating various
qualities in our personal character and behavior.
Fine flour. — There should be nothing
coarse-grained or rough to the touch; but all even and tender. So that
however great the pressure brought to bear on us, we should meet it with
perfect grace and gentleness. Jesus reviled not again, but was led as a lamb
to the slaughter. David Livingstone said that the promise of Christ was the
word of a perfect gentleman. This should be our character.
Oil upon it. — We must be mingled with
oil — that is, the Holy Spirit must have access into the secret places of
the inner life, and we must have the anointing of the Holy Ghost for
service. In Christian work nothing is of any value or permanence, useful to
man or pleasing to God, in which the Holy Spirit is not first.
Frankincense. — Every act of our life
should emit sweet fragrance towards God. Always moving forward in Christ’s
triumphant procession, bearing aloft the incense-bowls of thought, action,
word, filled with love and praise.
Salt. — “Let your conversation be
always with grace, seasoned with salt.” The words of Jesus were full of
grace, and also of truth. There was a pungency and purity and uncorruptness
in his speech, which have in every age arrested the progress of the world’s
evil. Let us give Him our lips.
No leaven — the symbol of the rising
of pride and self.
No honey — that which is merely
attractive and sensuous.
A sacrifice of Peace-offering.
In the burnt-offering the priest burnt
all; but in the peace-offering a part only was burnt, “the fat, kidneys, and
caul.” The inner parts were consumed as God’s portion, whilst Aaron and his
sons fed on the breast and the shoulder. In that feast God and the priests
participated; and it is an emblem of our participation in the joy of God,
over the person and work of Jesus.
Think of this blessed feast with God.
We who were once far off in the wicked and hostile imaginings, are now made
nigh; we sit at God’s table as his children, and hear Him say, Let us make
merry and be glad; this my son was dead, and is alive again.
We have Peace with God. — We are
justified by faith in Jesus. In Him we stand before God, accepted and
beloved. The curse is exchanged for blessing; distance for presence; the
husks of the swine for the fatted calf. The past is for ever under the
blood; above us is the clear heaven of God’s love.
We have the Peace of God. — The very
peace that fills our Father’s heart, undisturbed by the storms of care and
strife which sweeps this lower world, is ours also. We sit in heavenly
places; his peace, like a sentry, keeps our hearts and minds against
molestation; the peace of God rules in us, bringing every thought into
subjection to itself. We have perfect peace because our mind is stayed on
We have the God of Peace. — According
to the Apostle’s fervent hope and prayer, He is with us. Not the gift, but
the Giver; not I, but He; not the river only, but the source. We may well
open our doors to admit such a guest, in having whom we receive the Author
and Giver of concord, unity, and unbroken rest.
If a soul shall sin though ignorance.
Sin is something more than that of
which our conscience convicts us. Our conscience may excuse or palliate our
sins, or may fail to detect them for want of proper enlightenment, or may be
misled by the practices and sentiments of those around. Therefore we may do
things which are grievously wrong in God’s sight without realizing their
evil or bemoaning it.
All such sin must be met and atoned for ere God can admit us into his holy
presence. Sin must be dealt with and put away, not only as it appears to us,
but as it is in itself and in the sight of the All-Holy. So, in the types of
Leviticus, provision was made for sins of ignorance; and the blood of Jesus
cleaneth from all sin, whether known to us or not.
There is more sin in us than any of us
know. If we think we have passed a day without conscious sin, we have only
to wait till an intenser light is flashed on our motives and intentions —
for firelight to be exchanged for electric light — and we shall see specks
and flaws. If we do not actually violate known commands, there may be a
grievous coming short of the infinite standard of the Divine perfection. Who
shall dare to say that he has loved God with all his heart, and soul, and
strength? Besides, there is always the liability to sinfulness; and this
needs to be perpetually met and atoned for.
It is very needful, then, for us to be
perpetually cleansed in the precious blood of Christ. We must ask to be
forgiven for the many sins which we know not, as well as for those we know.
The work of confession and forgiveness must therefore go on to life’s end,
applied to each heart and conscience by the Holy Spirit.
He shall confess that wherein be hath sinned, and bring his
It is said that sometimes a soldier
will come from the battle bleeding from a hidden wound which he has received
without knowing it. So in the rush of life we may contract defilement by
touching uncleanness, or speaking rashly, which in the sight of God will
leave a foul stain upon the white robe of the soul.
The presence of unconscious sin with
us is the reason why we are often unable to pray or read the Word of God at
night. We are aware of a certain distance, a vail, a cloud, which has
settled down between us and the beatific vision. At such times we do well to
examine ourselves and the past more critically; for probably we shall be
able to detect the hidden cause, which, when we know it, must be confessed
and placed on the head of our guilt-offering, whilst we yield ourselves to
God as a whole burnt-offering, in a new act of self-surrender.
But confession is all important. We
must confess our sins, if the faithful Lord is to forgive them. Confession
is taking God’s side against ourselves. It is the act of judging evil in the
light of the Throne. It is like the unpacking of a box, in which one begins
with the lighter things at the top, and works steadily down to the heavy
articles underneath. It is the repetition in the heart of Joshua’s calling
the roll of Israel until Achan, the son of Carmi, was taken.
When the atonement has been made as
touching sin “in any of these things,” there is forgiveness. Dare to believe
that this is so, O penitent soul, who hast made Christ’s soul an offering
for thy sin. He says: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy
transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.” Go thy way, and sin no more.
Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.
This is an emblem of the perpetual
work of God for man.
The Love of God. — There never was a
time when God did not love. The bush that Moses saw gave no fuel to maintain
the holy flame that trembled around it, because the love of God to Israel
and to the human race demands no sustenance. Through the ages it burns and
will burn; however much indifference and neglect and rejection are heaped
upon it, or poured over it, like barrels of water over Elijah’s sacrifice,
it never goes out. It is as fresh and vigorous today as ever, and waits to
consume your sin and mine; for God is a consuming fire.
The Intercession of Christ. — As the
ages pass, this sacrifice retains its merit. What He did as Priest on the
cross, He does as Priest on the throne. It is always “this same Jesus.” What
He was, He is, and will be; and as generations of saints bring their gifts
to the altar, He takes them, and lifts them up to God, as the fire bears up
the substances which are submitted to it. He ever liveth to make
intercession; and the fire that burnt through the long night in the
Tabernacle bore witness to the undimming, unwaning virtue of our Savior’s
The Ministry of the Holy Ghost. — The
fire that was lit on the Day of Pentecost burns still in the Church. There
has been no intermission to its presence from the first day till now.
Multitudes of unknown sects and persecuted saints have kept that fire
burning in the world. On the perpetuity of its existence in our midst
depends the constancy of our own love and purity and prayer. If the fire
shall never go out in our hearts; if the life in our spirits is indeed
everlasting — it is because He lives and loves always.
Every one that is clean shall eat thereof. (r.v.)
In Leviticus 7:13, it is admitted that
leaven must be present in this holy feast, inasmuch as it stands for the
essential principle of evil, which intrudes into our holiest worship. The
self-life is an all-pervasive leaven. We may not be conscious of it; there
may be no sufficient recognition of its distastefulness to the holy God: but
it follows us even into the Holy place.
The worshipper was not allowed,
however, to be knowingly unclean. There must be no stain on the conscience,
which he might remove by confession and repentance. If there were, he must
be cut off; that is, he must be debarred from all participation in holy
rites, and suspended from entering the sacred enclosure of the Tabernacle.
This cutting off answers to the
suspension of a believers communion with God, because of unconfessed sin.
The presence of the leaven of the self-life is no barrier to the enjoyment
of the Divine fellowship, for we meet God in Jesus. But permitted sin makes
such fellowship impossible, because we have not availed ourselves of the
gracious arrangements made by God for the perpetual cleansing of the soul in
the precious blood of Jesus Christ. For “it is the blood that maketh an
atonement for the soul.”
How many excommunicate Christians
there are! You can easily see that they have been cut off; their joyless
faces and powerless prayers, their inability to bear testimony for God — all
tell the sad story. If you have been cut off, search your past history to
discover the cause. Put away your sin, and seek the blessed cleansing of
John 13; then come to feast with God, in holy communion, as at a common
Ye shall not go out.
For seven days Aaron and his sons,
newly consecrated by the blood and oil, waited together in the Holy Place.
They were prohibited from going beyond the door, but fed on the consecrated
food till the eighth day summoned them to begin their priestly duties.
Similarly we are shut in with our Great Aaron, the High Priest of our
profession. We are in Christ in the purposes of God, for we were chosen in
Him before the foundation of the world. We are in Him, as Noah was in the
ark, and as the child is in the home; as the member is in the body, and the
branch in the vine; as the sponge in the ocean, or the jewel in the sunbeam.
We are in Him as a strong enclosure, through which the malice and strength
of our foes cannot break — a fortress, a strong tower, a castle keep. We are
in Him, as a banqueting-hall, a Tabernacle with its spew-bread, an upper
room with its descending fire.
It is highly necessary that we should
maintain our walk and experience on this blessed elevation. The great enemy
of our souls is perpetually tempting us to leave our abiding-place, and to
try issues with him in the plains beneath. What is temptation but his subtle
solicitation to come out from the secret place of the Most High. Beware! the
bait may be very attractive, but the end is death. Keep the charge of the
Lord, and abide day and night in the company of the Great High Priest. “He
shall dwell among them.”
On what viands do such happy souls
feast with Christ! A table is provided before them by the Lord Himself, and
they feast on all that pertains to Him in blessed partnership. “Son, thou
art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine.”
Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them.
The eighth day is evidently the type
of the bright millennial morning. During the present age we are hidden with
Christ in God; the world knoweth us not, as it knew Him not; our hopes, and
joys, and aims, are largely secret. But the day is not far distant when He
shall be manifested, and then we shall be manifested with Him in glory. That
group of priests, following the high priest out from the recesses of the
Holy Place, is a picture of the Second Advent, when Christ and his own shall
come forth to bless the world. When Jesus was parted in the Ascension from
his disciples, He was in the act of blessing them; and in that attitude He
will return. Who can doubt that all through the intervening ages those
blessed hands have still been outstretched, that heart ever going forth, in
What a Savior is ours! In Him are
combined meekness that bears all insult and hatred, and mercy that
retaliates on wrong-doing in ministries of love. He fulfils his own idea of
blessing those that hate, and praying for those that despitefully use. How
truly can it be said of Him, as of Archbishop Ussher, that to do him a wrong
is to make him your friend for ever!
Let us imitate Him in this, and let
the going forth of our lives be one incessant stream of benediction to men,
until they shall fall on their faces and acknowledge the overwhelming power
of love. But in order to this we must be much in company with our blessed
Lord; gazing on his face we shall reflect his likeness; the lineaments of
the Divine beauty shall pass into our life, and light it up with a
loveliness which is not of earth. Thus shall we bring glory to our God.
Aaron held his peace.
His heart must have been rent with
paroxysms of grief, as he beheld the bodies of his beloved sons on the floor
of the Tabernacle, stretched out in death. He repressed the cry, choked back
the sob, staunched the flowing tear, and continued to perform the holy
duties with which he was charged. He was no stoic, and tears are not wrong
for our dead; but his relationship to God was so overmastering as to still
the expressions of nature.
He saw the wrong from God’s
standpoint. — It was of great importance that the Divine regulations and
enactments should be maintained, and that the ministering priests should
always prefer God’s work and service above their own ideas. Aaron was able
to appreciate that position, and saw the sin of which his children were
guilty. They had forgotten the voice which said, Sanctify thou Me. Obedience
is the foundation of reverence, honor, and service; and if it were relaxed
with the priests, how for the people! How careful they should be who bear
the vessels of the Lord! With what fear and trembling must they work, who
work with God!
He acquiesced in the Divine dealings.
— To take the yoke, and meekly bear it; to put the hand on the mouth, and
bow in the dust — this is rest and peace. In this way we drink Christ’s cup
and become partakers of his sufferings.
He felt that his work as priest must
take precedence. — -It was a solemn and awful thing to be God’s anointed
priest, and the office must come first, even to the denial of the dues of
nature, if that were necessary: so always with us, there must be the
subordination of everything to our service and work for God.
Whatsoever parteth the hoof and cheweth the cud. (r.v.)
The animals, in which these two
characteristics met, were reckoned clean, and therefore fit for food. It is
certain that the minute particularity of these words has some further
reference than to the diet of Israel, important though that was, or to
accentuate with every meal the necessity of their being a separate people.
We, at least, may gather this lesson, that in our daily experience we must
combine meditation and separation.
Meditation. — The cattle do not simply
browse on the pastures, but they lie down to chew the cud. It is not enough
to peruse our allotted Scripture portion; we must ruminate upon it,
comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and scripture with scripture. The
Holy Ghost will take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, and He
will bring all things to our remembrance.
Separation. — “Whosoever doeth not
righteousness is not of God.” “The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart.” We have not meditated to good purpose
unless we have felt its keen edge. Detachment from the world must follow on
true attachment to Christ. Love to Naomi will draw Ruth from Moab across the
The two must be combined. — The swine
divideth the hoof, but cheweth not the cud, and was therefore unclean. A man
may profess to love his Bible, but the supreme test is his daily separation
from evil. On the other hand, our daily life ought to emanate, not from
without, which is Pharisaism, but from within, where we chew the cud of holy
Two young pigeons.
These were the offerings of the poor,
of those whose means did not suffice to buy a lamb. All these offerings
pointed to the one great Sacrifice which was to be offered on Calvary.
The blood of Christ is within the
reach of the poorest and feeblest. — None can say that it is beyond them,
that they cannot afford to procure it, that they are too poor. To the poor
the Gospel is preached. The Divine call is to those who have no money.
Salvation is to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth
the ungodly. “It is nigh thee.”
The faith that apprehends but a part
of the Savior’s work saves. — The pigeon may stand for the meager
apprehension of Christ that is the portion of the faltering and timid; but
it saves equally with that fuller conception of his saving work, which might
be compared to the bullock of the priest. The question is not as to the
quantity but the object of faith. Is it fixed on Jesus? All faith directed
to Him cannot but be genuine. It may but touch his garment’s hem, yet it
The beneficence of God’s law. — What
tender touches there are through this strong ancient code! There is such a
one here, framed partly in anticipation of the mother of our Lord, who
gladly availed herself of its provision. What a glimpse into our Masters
humiliation! He owned the cattle on a thousand hills, yet He so emptied
Himself that his parents were compelled to bring the poorest offering the
law allowed. He stooped that we might rise; emptied Himself that we might be
full; became poor that we might be made rich; was made human that we might
be made Divine.
Behold if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him
At first sight this seems a very
extraordinary provision. When the leprosy was beginning to show itself, and
whilst the marks were hardly distinguishable, the poor patient was treated
as unclean; but, when it was fully developed, from the crown of the head to
the sole of the foot, the priest pronounced the leper clean.
As long as we palliate and excuse our
sins, and dream that there is much in us which is noble and lovely, we are
not fit subjects for God’s saving grace. But when we take our place as
helpless and undone, without one plea or one redeeming trait, we are in the
position in which the free grace of God can have its blessed way with us.
We must come to an end of ourselves,
and fall prostrate, in the very helplessness of our despair, in the very
dust at our Saviors feet; we must confess that from the crown of our head to
the sole of our foot we are full of need and sin — then we are nearest
Christ, and in a fit condition to be richly blest, and made the channel of
blessing to others.
Would you rise? then you must humble
yourself before God. God’s thrones are approached, not by steps up to them,
but by steps down to them. It is the publican who beats his breast, saying,
“God be merciful to me the sinner,” that goes down justified to his house.
It is when sin abounds, that grace much more abounds. He that humbleth
himself shall be exalted. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy I dwell in the high and holy place,
with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit
of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).
Shall let go the living bird into the open field. (r.v.)
That is thou, O trembling soul. Thine
iniquities have come between thee and freedom, like the bars of a cage to a
bird caught from its native woods and imprisoned. See the
quickly-palpitating breast, beaten against the bars, pining for the open
field — is not that an apt symbol of thy deep yearning for deliverance from
the tyranny and thrall of besetting sin?
We are made free from the penalty of
sin through the blood of Him who died. — One of the birds was killed in an
earthen vessel over running water — here is symbolized the precious death of
thy Savior, in the earthen vessel of his human nature, and in connection
with the living power of the Holy Spirit, which bore forth the tidings into
all the world. We have been dipped into the crimson tide and are freed — as
the leper was — from the taint of our disease. He might go freely among men,
and join the congregation of worshippers: and we may mingle with the saints,
and enter the very presence-chamber of God.
We are made free from the power of sin
through the grace of Him who rose. — He has passed into the resurrection
life, and we in Him. When He rose through all the heavens to his native
home, we ascended too. We are made free from the thralldom of evil by
identification with the risen Lord; and the Holy Spirit, entering our hearts
from our exalted Head, makes us possessors of all the privileges which are
ours in the Divine purpose (Romans 8:3–4). Fly away, happy soul, to thy nest
in the heart of God! Seek those things which are above! It is your privilege
to live in the heavenlies with Christ. Sursum Corda!
He that toucheth … shall be unclean.
There were doubtless great sanitary
reasons for many of these enactments. This book is one of the greatest
sanitary codes in existence. God made religious duty enforce regulations
essential to the physical health and well-being of his people. But there
were deeper reasons yet. The whole of these arrangements were contrived to
teach profound lessons to us all of the nature and evil of sin, and of the
need of being continually cleansed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
The unclean soul spreads uncleanness.
— Whatever the ceremonially unclean touched, used, or sat on, was polluted.
Even those who came into contact with him were defiled. How wary all true
Israelites must have been of their associates, lest they should contract
pollution! Let us adopt similar precautions, and not voluntarily associate
with the unholy or unclean. And if our business calls us into their daily
company, let us seek cleansing for ourselves as we return to our homes, that
any adhering germs of evil may be removed.
The urgent demand for holiness. — The
ordinary processes of life are not necessarily clean because they are
natural. The foul heart may vitiate the most natural functions. We must
bring the thought of God into the simplest, the commonest, and the most
secret acts. Nothing is outside his jurisdiction. Though hid from sight, yet
He is ever near the child of God. His grace, and blood, and cleansing, are
always requisite, and ever ready. Amidst and after every act, incident, and
episode of life, we should be quiet before God, considering if we have aught
to confess, and asking to be ever kept from staining our white robes.
Unto a solitary land. (r.v.)
This chapter is full of Christ in his
most precious death for men. Its various aspects are set forth under these
diverse sacrifices, as light reflected from the many facets of a diamond. We
think now only of the live goat which was led away into the wilderness. We
see in it:—
Christ made sin. — With both hands
Aaron, in symbol, transferred all the iniquities, sins, and transgressions
of the people to the head of the goat, which became so identified with them
that it was accounted an unclean thing; and even he who led it away must
needs wash his clothes and bathe. This is what the apostle means when he
says that Jesus was made sin for us. Our sins met in Him; were assumed by
Him; He stood before God as though, in some mysterious sense, they were his
Christ bearing sin away. — As the goat
went away, the eyes of the people followed it, and they were taught to
believe that sin was no longer reckoned to them. Aaron put off his linen
garments and arrayed himself in festal robes, and came forth to bless the
congregation. What rejoicing must have broken from the crowds! So Jesus, in
his matchless grace, has borne away the sin of the world into a land of
forgetfulness. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Christ’s loneliness. — He was alone in
his mediatorial work. None could bear Him company. Loved ones might stand
beside his cross, or in after ages suffer, as He did, deaths of martyrdom;
but none could do what He did as the sacrifice for sin. Ah, how lonely He
was! Even the Father seemed to have forsaken Him! Before the universe, in
that dread hour, the Savior stood in awful, unapproachable solitude!
The life of the flesh is in the blood.
There is probably a deeper truth in
these words than man has ever fathomed. The R. V. marg. translates “life,”
soul. Why that reverence for blood; that horror when it is unrighteously
shed and gurgles forth; that perpetual reference of Scripture to the blood
of Christ? Probably the answer to such questions would be given, if we
perfectly understood the affirmation of this remarkable verse.
When Jesus gave his blood, He gave his
life, the life of his holy soul. — We are accustomed often to speak about
the blood of Christ, by which we mean the life of Jesus, shed forth for us
substitutionally and sacrificially. The sinner takes this blood, this life,
in his hands, and presents it to God as his plea. Does the broken law
require satisfaction, homage, acknowledgment? Here it is in this priceless,
pure, and sinless blood, never infected by pollution, never heated by
passion. Let this shed life atone for thee! “God be propitious (because of
the sacrifice on the altar) to me the sinner.”
Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Received on Calvary; They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me
“Forgive him, oh, forgive,” they cry, “Nor let that ransomed sinner die.”
When we are bidden drink his blood, it
is of his life that we partake. — At the table of our Lord we symbolically
drink of his blood; in doing this we identify ourselves with his death, and
give up our self-life to the cross. Yea, we do more; we testify our desire
to receive into our natures more and more of the soul and life of our
Blessed Lord, so that we may dwell in Him, and He in us.
Therefore shall ye keep My charge. (r.v.)
Literal obedience was God’s perpetual
demand of his chosen people. Why should we claim to be exonerated from an
equally exact obedience to the commands of Jesus? And yet how few of us do
exactly as He has bidden! Let us take some tests.
The Lord’s Supper is a case in point.
In the present day there are many who, from year’s end to year’s end, never
go to the Table, though Jesus said that his disciples were to do it in
remembrance of Him.
Baptism is another. Christians shelter
themselves under the excuse that it is not essential, and therefore may be
omitted. But what do they mean by essential? It is not essential to
salvation, because that has been achieved by our Lord; but it may be
essential to show that we love Him, that we have a genuine faith, that we
are ready to take Him as King. Surely a soldier is not freed from obeying
the command of his officer because he cannot see it to be essential!
Going to law is another. If there is
one thing clearer than others, it is the reiterated charge of the New
Testament that we should rather suffer wrong than avenge ourselves. Yet how
many professing Christians will this day issue a County Court summons
Forgiveness is another. “If ye forgive
not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Yet there are hundreds of Christ’s professing followers who are at feud with
their relatives or fellow-members.
Let us remember the imperative tone of
these words, and ask God to work in us to will and to do of his good
I am the Lord your God.
This is the refrain of the entire
chapter; count how many times it recurs. Evidently the thought of God should
ring out in our lives, as a perpetual chime.
Sometimes as an inspiration to duty. We should seek to be holy because He is
holy. “Imitators of God.” Or as a remonstrance against yielding to
temptation. Lo, God is in this place; his pure eye is upon me: how can I do
this great wickedness! Or as an incentive to liberality. We can afford to be
generous to the poor and hireling, because we are children of so great and
rich a parent. Or as a reason for merry and gentle kindness. How can we act
otherwise than lovingly, when his love encompasses us with its persuasive
Thus the perpetual consciousness of
God becomes the source of holy and happy living. But how may it become ours?
We may make many resolutions, only to break them. We forget after our most
definite purposing. There is no help but in the Holy Spirit, whose office it
is to teach us all things, and bring all things to our remembrance. He is
able also to help our infirmity: “for we know not how to pray as we ought;
but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered.”
In the morning let the thought of
God’s presence with you in your secret closet sink well into your heart.
Wait till his presence is made real to you, and you cry, Lo, God is here.
Then entrust yourself to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to keep you in the
current of the love and thought of God. Reckon on Him to do so. Now and then
in the course of daily duty stop and remember God. Thus you will live in his
fear and love all the day long.
F B Meyer
Our Daily Walk
TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOUR
love thy neighbour as thyself." -- Matthew 22:39; Leviticus
OUR NEIGHBOUR is the next person who needs our help, man, woman,
or child. It is enough that your help is needed, and that you are
near! As we read this paragraph from the old Jewish law we see who
are our neighbours, and what we are to do for them.
We must give them a chance to live (Matt 22:9-10). We have no
right to waste anything that may be of service to others, or to
use for ourselves all our possessions. There must always be a
margin left which we can give to those who are in need. Well would
it be if each reader of these fines would set apart a certain
proportion of produce and increase, as well as money, for the
cause of Christ and His poor.
We must not withhold payments which are due (Matt 22:13). How many
tradesmen and others have been ruined by the long delays of
customers in settling their accounts. If only all Christian people
would insist on paying cash, especially to small shopkeepers, what
a blessed revolution would ensue. It is neither honest nor just to
withhold payment from those to whom it is due.
We must be very gentle and considerate to those who suffer from
any infirmity (Matt 22:14). God's Love is always endeavoring to
make up in some way to those who are handicapped. The blind Milton
sings of Paradise, and Helen Keller has been enabled to triumph
over insuperable obstacles. We are to become ears to the deaf and
eyes to the blind.
We must not hesitate to rebuke sin (Matt 22:17). This needs deep
humility, tact, the removal of the beam from one's own eye, the
love of Christ for souls; but how much might be done if we would
stay the little rift within the lute!
We must not bear a grudge (Matt 22:18). All, this is hard! To feel
hurt, to take offence, to be cold and stiff, to stand at a
distance, how many of us fail here! But we must act and speak to
others in the power of God's Love, as we would do if there were no
The lawyer asked Christ: "Who is my neighbour?" suggesting that
some one should neighbour him. Our Lord reversed his inquiry,
saying in effect: "Whom will you neighbour?" If you go through
life seeking people to neighbour you, life will be full of
disappointment; but blessed is he who seeks to neighbour others;
he shall not lack those who, in the hour of trial, will neighbour
soften our hard and steely hearts, warm our icy and frozen hearts,
that we may wish well to one another, and may be the true
disciples of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
I have separated you from the peoples, that ye should be Mine. (r.v.)
“Separate me Barnabas and Saul,” said
the Holy Ghost. And in after days Paul spoke of himself as being separated
unto the Gospel of God. It is a mistake to make the act of separation our
own resolve and deed. We shall inevitably drop back unless God has come into
the transaction, and has set us apart for Himself. We must be separated from
sin and sinners unto a holy God.
We are needed for a specific purpose.
— God can bless men only through men. As once He used the Jews to be the
medium of communicating his truth to men, so now He is eager to use his
Church; if only she will allow Him to deliver her from the taint of sin and
the world, and separate her for a peculiar possession unto Himself. Let us
individually yield ourselves to the blessed influences of the Holy Spirit,
that He may realize in us the purpose for which He has called us.
We are required to satisfy God’s
heart. — He needs love for love. Throughout the world He seeks for those who
can afford Him pleasure, as his enclosed gardens, his sealed fountains, his
This separation is effected by the
Holy Ghost, and is referred to in the word “sealing.” “He hath sealed us
unto the day of redemption.”
What an honor is this! To be for God
Himself: to do his errands, to fulfil his behests and give Him pleasure!
Rejoice greatly when God says, “Thou art mine.” We also can take up his
words, and answer back, “Thou also art mine.” Let us be glad, if we know
that the oil of separation has come on our needs, and let us walk worthily
of our high calling, separated to the Holy Ghost, and counting it sacrilege
to be used for any unholy purpose.
Leviticus 21:8, 15,
I the Lord, which Sanctify you.
This chapter is full of restrictions
and cautions against anything that might defile the priests, the sons of
Aaron. The holiness of God was set in a clear light by the care that there
should be no ceremonial pollution or personal defect in those who ministered
before his presence. What Aaron and his sons were in the ancient typical
worship, that Jesus and his people are in the spiritual dispensation which
has taken its place. “Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people for God’s own possession.”
How holy we should be “in all manner
of living”! What may be innocent and natural for others would be wrong and
inconsistent in us. Even the pointing of the beard after the fashion of the
nations around, and for appearance’ sake, was forbidden them; and contact
with death in the home of domestic mourning. These, with many such like
cautions, indicate that our spiritual separation for the service of God must
enter into the minutest details. The clothes we wear, the books we read, the
amusements we engage in, the details of the home-life — will all be affected
by the thought, “I have been set apart for God; the anointing of the Spirit
is on me; I am called to offer Him the bread of a holy life; I may not do as
others, who have not realized the sacredness of life, as I do; and who may
permit without compunction what I forego.”
This is a high ideal; and it is only
practicable to those who realize the thrice-made announcement of our text,
that God will sanctify us: setting us apart for Himself — by the precious
blood of Christ, by the anointing of the Spirit, and by the separation of
our thoughts, and aims, and practices.
He shall not eat of the holy things till he be clean.
The holy things referred to here are
the offerings made by Israel to Jehovah, a part of which was presented to
God in fire, and the rest partaken of by the priests and their families.
None, however, might feed on them whilst ceremonially unclean. This suggests
some useful precautions for ourselves, if we would fully enjoy the
privileges and blessings attending the worship of the holy God.
We must be clean before we can enjoy
the private reading of the Word of God. — We would wash our hands, soiled
with the dust and grime of toil, before opening an exquisitely printed copy
of the Scriptures; how much more should we seek cleansing at the hands of
Christ before we feed on the holy things of Scripture!
We must be clean before entering the
House of God. — It is a holy habit for each intending worshipper to be quiet
before leaving the house on the Lord’s day; or to use carefully the moment
of the bent head at the commencement of the public service, in order that
the soul may be made clean from any contracted stain, and resolve henceforth
to abstain from all evil.
We must be clean before partaking of
the Lord’s Supper. — There we feed upon the bread of God; and as we wash our
hands before we sit at the table of a friend, so should our hearts be
cleansed ere we partake of the emblems of the body and blood of Christ.
Holiness becomes God’s house. Those that ascend the hill of the Lord must
have clean hands and a pure heart. The reason why religious exercises do not
profit you, may lie in your failure to comply with this demand. “He shall
not eat of the holy things until he be clean.”
Ye shall afflict your souls.
Whilst Aaron was making the solemn
atonement for the people, confessing their sins on the victims and sending
them away, the camp was pervaded with the atmosphere of the Sabbath rest. No
servile work was done on penalty of death. Probably for the most part the
people abode in their tents. No sound was heard save sighs, and groans, and
cries of penitence. The people afflicted themselves for their sins.
Sin is forgiven by God, but it should
not be forgotten by us. — We should remember it, in order to refresh our
memory of God’s great grace in putting it away; in order to deepen our sense
of gratitude and to promote our self-humiliation; in order to make us
watchful and careful in our daily walk and conversation. Holding the hand of
our Savior, we need not dread to look down into the abyss from which He has
redeemed us. We shall turn from it to Him with tenderer love and gratitude.
Repentance is once for all; penitence
is perennial. — We repent when we turn from the kingdom of darkness to that
of God’s dear Son; it is the act of the will, the utter reversal of the
course we had been pursuing. But we are penitent after we have seen the face
of Jesus: it is the act of the emotions; the sense of Christ’s love and of
our unworthiness together makes us weep, as the forgiven sinner did at his
Penitence does not purchase
forgiveness, but accompanies and follows it. — Could our tears for ever
flow, they could not bring God’s pardon into our souls. That is secured by
the offering of our Substitute on Calvary. But being forgiven, we wash his
feet with our tears, we break our alabaster boxes on his head, and love
Before the Lord continually.
The light of the candlestick and the
twelve cakes of fine flour were to be before the Lord continually, as
symbols of the twofold office his people were to sustain, on the one hand to
the world’s darkness, on the other to God Himself.
We must shine as lights in the world.
— As a candle in the hand of the housewife, who sweeps her house diligently;
as a lamp in the hand of the virgin expecting the bridegroom; or as the
lighthouse on a rocky coast. We must dispel the darkness, and guide
wanderers through the murky night. Light is soft and still, and is thus a
fitting emblem of the influence of a holy life, which burns steadily on
before the Lord continually, and is unaffected by the heed or comment of
man. If no one seems the better for our consistent testimony, aim to satisfy
the Lord. The lamps of the pure candlestick of a holy life are not for man
only, but for Him. But they can only be maintained through the constant
supply of the pure oil of the Holy Ghost, ministered by Him who walks amid
the seven golden candlesticks. “Ye are the light of the world.”
We must be as bread to God. — In a
blessed sense we feed on God, but God also feeds on us. He finds
satisfaction in beholding his people’s unity and love, in receiving their
sacrifices of praise, and in watching their growing conformity to his will.
The two rows of six cakes foreshadow the unity and order of the Church; the
fine flour, its holy, equable character; the pure frankincense, the
fragrance of Christian love. There is a testimony in all these to the world;
but we do not always realize the satisfaction afforded to the great God, who
has made such costly sacrifices on behalf of his Church.
His kinsman that is next unto him. (r.v.)
In the case of Naomi this was Boaz; in
our case it is Jesus Christ. Redemption, as described in this chapter, had
to do with persons and lands; and each illustrates Christ’s work on behalf
of believers throughout all ages.
He has redeemed our Persons. — It
often happened that a Hebrew waxed poor, and was compelled to sell himself
to some wealthy Gentile who sojourned in the land. He who had owned his own
patrimony now wrought as a bondservant for another. But after he had sold
himself he might be redeemed by his next kinsman. So we had sold ourselves
for nought; we wrought the will of the flesh; we were enslaved to the
fashions of the world; we obeyed the promptings of the prince of the power
of the air. Alas for us! But we have been redeemed, not with corruptible
things, but with the precious blood of Christ. We have been made free by
right, and have only to claim and act upon the freedom with which the risen
Christ has made us free.
He has redeemed our Inheritance. —
What we lost in the first Adam we have more than regained in the second. For
innocence, we have purity; for external fellowship with God, his indwelling;
for the delights of an earthly paradise, the fulness of God’s blessedness
He is our nearest Kinsman. — “My
brother, my sister,” He says of each who will do the will of his Father. He
has made Himself one with us by taking on Himself our nature, and
identifying Himself with our race. We know that Jesus, our Göel and
Redeemer, liveth; and that He will come to redeem us from the power of the
grave, and receive us to Himself.
None shall make you afraid.
But we are afraid, often very greatly
so. How can we be secured from the dread of men and things which so easily
We must be absolutely right with God.
— To walk in God’s statutes, and keep his commandments, was the first
condition of Israel’s immunity from fear. When we know that there is no
cause of controversy between us and God, we feel able to count confidently
on his protection and deliverance. “Perfect love casteth out fear.”
We must count on God’s faithfulness. —
He has put us where we are, and we dare not think He will withdraw from us,
as Joab did from Uriah. We are his partners, summoned to co-operate with
Him: will He allow us to incur responsibilities in his name, and then leave
the burden on our unassisted resources? Fear will yield before a clear sense
of God’s might; but it is still more likely to yield before a deep sense of
God’s perfect faithfulness.
We must rely on the environment of
angel keepers. — When David, during his flight before Absalom, slept in the
open, he believed that the Angel of the Lord encamped around him. More are
they which are for us than those that be against us. The mountain is full of
horses and chariots of fire. Lord, open our eyes that we may see!
We must believe that our enemies are
less formidable than they seem. — They surround us with their bluster and
threatenings, they come against us in embattled array; but if we dare to go
forward and do the right thing in the sight of God, they will vanish like a
puff of smoke. “For, lo, the kings assembled themselves.... They were
arrayed, they were dismayed, they hasted away.”
No devoted thing ... shall be sold or redeemed.
There is a great principle involved in
these words. When once a person or possession had been solemnly dedicated to
God, it was not permissible to withdraw from the obligations which had been
assumed. Once given, the offering was regarded as God’s property, and might
not be resumed by the offerer, or placed to any inferior use.
This regulation is specially
applicable to our conception and practice of consecration. We are Christ’s:
by the gift of the Father, by the purchase of the blood of Christ, by the
sealing of the Spirit; but a moment often comes in the life of the earnest
believer when the Lord appears to claim a more earnest recognition of his
rightful claim. Then thoughtfully and earnestly, spirit, soul, and body, are
laid upon the altar, and we solemnly declare, “I am thine, O Lord!”
When once this is done, we must reckon
that God has accepted us, and that we cannot repeat the gift. We may
perpetually refer to it, and acknowledge its abiding obligation, and apply
its principle to all those new departments and functions which are
perpetually increasing on us; but we can no more repeat it, than could the
Israelite give God the firstling lamb, since it was already his (Leviticus
If we go back from the attitude we
have once taken up, we must confess our relapse with tears and deep
contrition, asking to be restored, waiting to be put back again into the old
place by our merciful and compassionate High Priest. We cannot undo that
past; but we may ask Him to restore us to the place we occupied before we
went astray. Oh that we might never withdraw from the altar of entire
Laying the Hand on the Sacrifice
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, JULY 19TH, 1903,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON
ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, AUGUST 12TH, 1877.
“And he shall lay his hand upon the head
of the sin offering.” — Leviticus 4:29.
I MIGHT have take, as my text, several
other verses in the same chapter, for they all express the same idea as the
words I have just read to you. For the sake of emphasis, let me ask you to
look at the 4th verse. When a priest had committed sin, and brought a sin
offering unto the Lord, it is written, “He shall bring the bullock unto the
door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; and shall lay
his hand upon the bullock’s head.” The 15th verse tells us that, when the
whole congregation of Israel had sinned through ignorance, the Lord said to
Moses, “The elders of the congregation shall Lay their hands upon the head
of the bullock before the Lord.” Then, in the 24th verse, we read that,
when a ruler had sinned through ignorance, and brought his sin offering,
“He shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place
where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord.” And, in the 33rd
verse, you find that, if a common person had committed a sin through
ignorance, or if his sin should come to his knowledge, he was to bring a sin
offering, and then it was added, “He shall lay his hand upon the head of
the sin offering.”
Any one of those verses would,
therefore, have sufficed for a text. It seems to have been a necessary part
of the proceedings that, when a sin offering was presented to the Lord, to
be offered up before him, the offered should first of all lay his hand upon
the head of the animal devoted to this sacred purpose.
I hope I am addressing many persons
who wish to know more about the way and plan of salvation, and who are
anxious to partake in, the benefits of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Possibly,
they are saying, “We know that there is a Savior for sinners, but how can
he be ours? We know that an atonement has been made for sin; but how can
that “atonement really pub away our sin so that we may be pardoned, and
accepted by God?” This is a very natural question, and a very proper one;
it would be well if it were most solemnly and seriously asked by all who, as
yet, remain without being partakers of the blessings which are stored up for
us in Christ Jesus.
Beloved friends! it will be all in
vain, so far as we are personally concerned, “that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners,” unless he shall save us. It will be of no avail
to us that Jesus shed his precious blood, unless that blood washes away our
guilt. It will increase rather than diminish our misery if we hear that
others are saved so long as we ourselves remain unsaved. If we are finally
lost, it will not make our lot in hell any more tolerable if we discover
that there was a propitiation for sin, although we never had a share in its
expiatory effects. Of all questions in the world, it does seem to me that
this is the most urgent and pressing one, and that we ought not to rest
until we get it satisfactorily answered and put into practice, — ”How can I
be a partaker in the eternal life which Jesus Christ came into the world to
procure for sinners by his death?” Some of you have hitherto totally
neglected this question. If you had noticed, in The Times, an advertisement
stating that somebody’s next of kin was wanted, and you had suspicion that
you were the person to whom the notice referred, I warrant you that you
would not have let the grass grow under your feet, you would have been quick
enough to secure the fortune which had been left by your relative. But now
that Jesus Christ has died, and left a wondrous legacy of grace among the
sons of men, you have allowed a good many years to roll over your head
without making an eager and earnest search into the question whether there
is anything for you. You have seen a great many persons saved all around
you, yet you yourself remain unsaved. You have some of your dear one’s who
are in heaven, but you are not pursuing the path which will leaf you
thither, and, all this while you have not had the excuse, which many have
had, of never having heard that there was great Savior and great salvation
to be had without money and without price. If you could plead such an excuse
as hat, it would be bother for you than it is now, when you are sinning
against light and knowledge in neglecting that which would be most of all
for your spiritual and eternal good. Be wise now therefore. You have been
trifling far too long. Be serious now, and bend your whole mind to the
earnest consideration at this all-important matter, “How can I obtain
salvation? How can I get it here and now? How can sin be pardoned? How can
my sins be pardoned now I have long heard of Christ; how can I come into
vital connection with him? I know that —
“’There is a
fountain fill’d with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;’
“but how can I be washed therein so
that I, personally, may become whiter than snow?”
My text says that the guilty person,
who brought the sin offering, laid his hand upon its head; and this act
gives a pictorial and symbolical answer to your questions, and bells you how
you can come into connection with Christ, and how his great sacrifice can
become available for you. You have to do to Christ, spiritually, what these
Hebrews did literally; you have to imitate their action, and so to carry out
them words of Dr. Watts which we often sing, —
“My faith would lay
On that dear head of thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.”
I shall speak of only two things which
we may learn from my text. The first is, the intent of this symbol; and the
second is, the simplicity of the symbol, — this laying of the hand of the
offerer upon the head of the victim presented by him to God as sin offering.
I. First, then, let me try to
explain The Intent Of The Symbol. What did it mean?
For these things, of which I shall
speak in explaining this symbol, are necessary in order that Christ should
become yours. Follow me very carefully and prayerfully, dear friend, if you
do indeed desire to be saved, for it may be that the Lord will lead you into
everlasting life even while I am speaking. I pray that he may do so.
The first meaning of this laying of
the hand upon the head of the sacrifice is this; it was a confession of sin.
The offering was a sin offering; but for sin, it would not have been needed.
The man who came, and laid his hand on the head of the sin offering,
acknowledged, by that act and deed, that he was a sinner. If there had been
anyone who was not sinner, he would have had no right to be there. A sin
offering, for person who had no connection with sin, would have been a
superfluity; why should he bring a sin offering to the Lord! So, dear
friends, if you have no sin, you are not fit subjects for Christ’s saving
power and grace. If you are not guilty, you do not need forgiveness. If you
have never transgressed the law of God, you need not come before him with a
sin offering. Only remember that, if you do think so, you are under one of
the most sorrowful delusions that ever entered the brain of a madman. You
are deceiving yourself, depend upon it. If you say that you have no sin, the
truth is not in you. But he who brought a sin offering before the Lord said,
in effect, “This is what I need, for I am a sinner. I need to have my sin
taken away for I am guilty in the sight of God. So I put my hand upon this
lamb, or goat, or bullock, which is about to die, thereby confessing that I
need a sacrifice in order that the sin, which I confess that I have
committed, may be put away.”
Are you reluctant to confess that you
are a sinner? If so, I pray very earnestly that you may speedily get rid of
that reluctance. God does not ask you to confess your sins to any man. It
would be a shame for you to do so, for you would pollute that man, whoever
he might be, if you poured into his ear the sad tale of your filthiness and
sin. God does not ask you to do any man the serious wrong of whispering into
his ear the foul story of your trangressions. It is not to your
fellow-creature, but to your God, that you are to confess your sin. Go
straight to him, and say, as the prodigal said to his father, “I have
sinned against heaven, and in thy sight.” What makes you so slow to do
that? Do you imagine that he does not know about your sin, and think that
you can hide anything from him? That is impossible, for “all things are
naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Is it your
pride that keeps you from confessing your sin? How can you hope that God
will forgive you if you will not acknowledge that you have sinned against
him? Think how you act towards your own children. How ready you are again to
clasp them to your bosom when they have offended against you! Yet you watch
to see in them signs of relenting and repenting. So does the Lord your God
watch for tokens of contrition and godly sorrow in you. Wherefore, “take
with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity,
and receive us graciously.” Are you not willing to do this? Then, alas! you
lack the first requisite for obtaining acceptance through Christ. How can
you, who will not own that you have sinned, lay your hand upon the head of
the sin offering?
He who thus confessed his sin
confessed also that he deserved to die, just as that victim was about to be
slain. There stood the priest, with his sacrificial knife, ready to slay the
innocent beast and the basin in which to catch the blood of the bullock, or
goat, or lamb, whichever it might be that was being offered; and he, who
laid his hand upon its head, thereby said, “This poor animal is about to
die, and to pour out its blood, and this reminds me that I deserve condign
punishment from God. If he were to destroy me, he would be perfectly
justified in so doing.” Soul, wilt thou say that? Art thou willing to
humble thyself in the dust, and to say that? Wilt thou put the halter about
thy neck, and confess that thou deservest the extreme penalty that the great
Judge can inflict? If so, thou hast begun well; for he, who will confess his
guilt, and will own that he deserves the punishment of death for it, has
begun to put his hand upon the head of the great Sacrifice for sin.
Follow me a step further, and I trust
that we may rejoice together that thou, poor, guilty, self-condemned soul,
hast found deliverance through the one Sacrifice which God has provided for
the putting away of sin. In the second place, the laying of the hand upon
the head of the sin offering was a consent to the plan of substution. He who
had brought the victim laid his hand upon its head; and, though he did not
say so, yet his action, being interpreted, meant, God has ordained that this
animal should be put into my place, and I accept the divine appointment
right heartily. I agree with him that I should be pardoned through the
offering of a sacrifice, and that I should be accepted by God by reason of
the shedding of the blood of a sacrificial victim. “Now, what sayest thou
to this plan, O man? If the Jew was willing to let the death of the bullock,
or the goat, or the lamb, typically stand for his own death, art thou
willing, with all thy heart, to accept God’s plan of salvation by the
substitution of his only-begotten Son suffering and dying in thy stead?
Surely, thou wilt not quarrel with this method of saving thee if God sees it
to be the right one. Whenever my conscience has raised any question about
the justice of this arrangement, it has always been quite a sufficient
answer for me to say that, if the thrice-holy Jehovah feels that the
sacrifice of Christ, in the stead of sinners, is enough to vindicate his
justice, I may well be satisfied with what satisfies him. Indeed, to
question the righteousness of that method of saving the lot is to assail God
upon a matter which lies very near his heart, and to attack that wondrous
plan of redemption which is the last and highest display of all his divine
attributes, for the system of substitution is the apex of the pyramid of
God’s revelation, the very highest point of the great mountain chain in
which he has manifested his wisdom, power, love, mercy, and even his justice
to the sons of men, “that he might be just, and the Justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus.” O soul, if the Lord, who is offended, is satisfied
with the expiation offered, thou, certainly, needest not be so foolish as to
raise questions concerning it or to cavil at it!
Besides, if thou wilt but think
seriously about this matter thou wilt see that the justice of God is
abundantly honored by Christ’s standing in thy stead. There is a well-known
story of a school-master who had one boy in his school whom he could not
keep in order by any ordinary discipline. He had threatened to punish him,
and, indeed, he had done so again and again; but still he remained
incorrigible. At last, he threatened that, if a certain form of disobedience
should be repeated, he should be publicly beaten. The time soon came for the
fulfillment of the threat, but the master could not bear that the boy should
be punished, yet, at the same time, he felt that the honor of the school,
and the maintenance of his own authority in it, required that it should be
so. He told the lads that he was willing to spare the erring one; “yet,”
he said, “discipline will be at an end, my word will be broken, you will
never believe in me again, and, moreover, the school will be dishonored by
this boy being allowed to act as he does without punishment.” Musing for a
minute, he took down the ruler, put it into the hand of the disobedient boy,
and then held out his own hand, bade the boy strike, and himself received
the punishment that was due to the culprit. The effect produced upon the boy
was not a matter of surprise to those who know what fervent love will do. He
offended no more, and the school was maintained in the highest possible
condition of discipline. This is a faint picture of what God has done. In
the person of his well-beloved Son, he says, “I will suffer because you are
guilty. Somebody must be punished for your sin and if you suffer the just
penalty for your evil deeds, it will crush you to the lowest hell. You
cannot endure it, but I myself will bare my shoulders to receive the stripes
which are your due. I will take upon myself your sins; my law shall have a
terrible yet complete vindication; I shall be just, and yet I shall be able
fully and freely to forgive you, and to accept you.” Nothing ever did
display all the attributes of God so gloriously and especially his immutable
justice, as the atoning death of his well-beloved and only-begotten Son; so,
beloved let there be no question about your assenting to the plan of
substitution. God is content with it. You yourself can see how it honors
him, so be you satisfied with it. Do not be a skeptic, doubting and
questioning. There is an old proverb, which says, “Don’t quarrel with your
bread and butter;” but I may with even greater emphasis say, “Do not
quarrel with your own salvation.” If I must cavil at anything, surely I
will not cavil against my own soul, and try to prove that I cannot be saved,
putting my wits to work to show the absurdity of God’s way of saving me. Oh,
never, never, let this be the case with you; but, the rather, cheerfully
accept what infinite wisdom has arranged!
Thus, you see, that the laying of the
hand of the offerer on the head of the sacrifice meant the confession of
sin, and consent to the way of salvation by substitution. It also meant a
great deal more than that.
In the third place, it meant the
acceptance of that particular victim in the sinner’s stead. By laying his
hand upon it, he practically said, “This animal is to stand instead of
me.” Here is the main point, the essential point of the whole matter. Will
you accept Christ as standing in your stead, — the Divine yet human Savior,
perfect in his humanity, yet perfect also in his Deity? He has lived; he has
suffered; he has died; he has risen again, he has gone back into the glory
at his Father’s right hand. God has honored him with full acceptance; wilt
thou also accept him? The root of the matter lies there. Oh, may his blessed
Spirit sweetly guide thy will so that thou shalt say as I do, “Accept him?
Ah, blessed be his holy name that he permits me to accept him! Surely I will
do so, I will trust him; he shall be mine.” If you have done so, then he is
yours, for that is all he asks of you, to receive him, to lay your hand upon
him, and to say, “There! Jesus Christ shall be the Sacrifice for me; I will
rest in him, and in him alone.” I hope that I do not need to multiply words
in urging this demon upon you; I trust that the softening influence of the
Holy Spirit is already at work among you, leading some of you, who have
delayed until now, to say, “We will accept Jesus as our Substitute and
accept him now.” Why should you any longer delay to stretch forth your
hand, and lay it upon Jesus, by faith, even as the offerer laid his hand
upon the head of the sacrifice?
But this laying on of the hand meant
even more than that, though that was the very essence of it all. It also
meant a belief in the transference of the sin. He who laid his hand upon the
sin offering did, as it were, as far as he could, put his sin from himself
on to that bullock, or goat, or lamb, which was about to die, because it had
become the sinner’s substitute. That laying on of his hand was a token of
the transference of his guilt to the appointed victim and if thou wilt have
Christ to be thy Savior, thou must believe that he, “his own self, bare our
sins in his own body on the tree.” Believest thou this? Then, see what
follows from it. Sin cannot be in two places at one time; if it is laid upon
Jesus, it is taken off from thee. If thou dost, in thy very soul, accept
Christ as thy Substitute, then it is clear that the Lord hath laid upon him
thine iniquity; and, therefore, thine iniquity hath passed away from thee,
and thy sin is gone for ever. Christ has taken all thine iniquities, and
carried them away where they shall never be mentioned against thee any more
for ever. Oh, what a blessed truth is this! If a man, who has been blind for
fifty years, could have his eyes opened, and could be taken out to see the
stars, or to look up to the sun, how he would clap his hands, and cry,
“What a wondrous sight it is!” And I know that, when I first perceived
that Christ stood in my place, and that I stood in his place, — that I was
accepted because he was rejected, that I was beloved because he endured his
Father’s wrath on my account, — my soul felt as if it had never lived
before, and had never known anything that was worth knowing till it
perceived that wondrous truth. The Lord give thee, dear heart, to perceive
that it is even so in thy case, for then thou also wilt be truly glad.
That laying of the hand on the head of
the sin offering also meant one thing more, — it was dependence, a leaning
on the victim. According to the Rabbis, the offerer was to lean with great
pressure upon the bullock or the goat. If it was so, there is great
significance about that act, for it teaches that you should depend like that
upon Jesus; lean hard upon him, lean with all your weight of sin, and all
your load of iniquity, upon him whom God has appointed to stand in the
sinner’s stead. Accept him as your Substitute, lean upon him, rest upon him.
Say in your soul, “If I perish,” though that can never be, “I will perish
leaning upon Christ. He shall be my soul’s only Dependence.”
The Puritans speak of faith as a
recumbency, a leaning. It needs no power to lean; it is a cessation from our
own strength, and allowing our weakness to depend upon another’s power. Let
no man say, “I cannot lean;” it is not a question of what you can do, but
a confession of what you cannot do, and a leaving of the whole matter with
Jesus. No woman could say, “I cannot swoon:” it is not a matter of power.
Die into the life of Christ; let him be All-in-all while you are nothing at
“Well,” says one, “but I can hardly
think that I shall be saved simply by depending upon Christ.” Then, let me
tell thee that this was all that any of the saints of old ever had to depend
upon, and this is all that any of the children of God, who are now alive,
have to depend upon. I bear my own personal testimony that my only hope for
everlasting life lies in the death of him who suffered in my stead. I have
trusteed in him, I have accepted him as standing in my place; gladly have I
seen my sin transferred to him, and his righteousness transferred to me. I
have no other hope, nor even the shadow of another hope. Prayers, tears,
repentances, preachings, almsgiving, ay, and faith itself, — all these put
together are just nothing at all as a ground of dependence for the soul. It
is the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, the one great Substitute for
sinners, upon which we all must rely. There, soul, if thou hast nothing else
to depend upon, thou haste as much as I have; and if thou dost accept Jesus
Christ to be thy Savior, thou hast the same hope that I have. I will even
dare to be bondsman for thee, and to perish with thee, if thou canst perish,
trusting is Christ; but that can never be. A this blessed Book is true, and
as Christ ever liveth, there is not a soul, that shall rely upon him, whom
he will not assuredly bless and pardon here below, and take to himself to
dwell in his bosom for ever and ever in glory.
There you see what is the intent of
the laying of the hand upon the head of the sin offering. If you have been
helped to follow me thus far, if you have really laid your hand upon Christ,
I bless and praise the name of the Lord.
II. Now I have only a few minutes
left for speaking, in the second place, upon The Simplicity Of This Symbol.
What was required was just the laying of the hand of the offerer upon
the victim’s head; that and nothing more.
Notice that there was no preparatory
ceremony. There was the animal provided for a sacrifice, just as God has
provided our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be the Lamb of God; and the one
thing to be done was for the sinner to lay his hand upon the head of the
sacrifice. In like manner, there is no preliminary ceremony needed before
coming to Christ. This is the first thing, sinner, that thou hast to do, to
come, and lay thy hand upon him, and to say, “He is mine.” “But must I
not be prepared in a certain way, so that I may come to him right? Must I
not do, or feel, or be something?” No, the cross is at the head of the way
of life; it is the true wicket gate which leadeth unto everlasting life.
Believing in Jesus is the first thing thou hast to do; thou livest not until
thou believest in him. Come, then, to Jesus; come now; the first thing for
thee to do is to accept him as thy Substitute, and to rely wholly upon him.
You also perceive, dear friends, that
the hand that was to be laid upon the head of the sacrifice had nothing in
it. The man, who came thus to confess his guilt, did not bring a silver
shekel or talent of gold in his hand. That was not at all necessary. All he
had to do was to lay his hand upon the sin offering; and, in like manner,
you must say, with Toplady, —
“Nothing in my hand
Simply to thy cross I cling.”
And, as there was to be nothing in the
hand of the sinner, so there was to be nothing on his hand. If he had a
dozen diamond rings on his fingers, he could not lay his hand on the
bullock’s head any the better. He who had no ornament at all could do it
just as well; and if thou hast no virtues, and no excellences, — if thou art
poor, if thou art illiterate, if thou hast even lost thy character, if thy
hand is a foul hand, a black hand, yet if thou dost lay it, by faith, upon
the head of Jesus Christ, if thou dost take him to be thy Savior, thou haste
made the all-important decision.
“’Tis done, the
great transaction’s done.”
Thou are thy Lord’s, and he is thine,
for “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” He has it
already in present possession, so let him go in peace, rejoicing in the
blessing that he has received from the Substitute and Savior.
Observe, too, that there was nothing
to be done with that hand, except to lay it on the head of the sacrifice.
There were to be no mystic crossings or movings to and fro, no cunning
legerdemain; but the sinner was just to lay his hand upon the head of the
animal that was to die as his substitute. You know that, in the Revelation,
the woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, that is, the Church of Rome, has
upon her forehead the name Mystery, and you probably recollect what follows,
“Babylon the great, the mother of harlots.” But the chaste bride of
Christ, the Church which he has redeemed by his blood, is not a partaker of
that mystery; and Christ, in the gospel, gives us nothing but simplicities.
As the laying of the hand up the head of the sacrifice was all that was
needed for the forgiveness of the sinner under the law, so all that thou
needest now is to take Christ to be thy Substitute and Savior. Therefore, by
the eternity of bliss or woe which depends upon thy decision, in the name of
God, who has sent me to proclaim his gospel, I demand of thee, man or woman,
that thou shouldst come to the right decision upon this all-important
matter. Let there be no putting off, and no offering to do something else;
what is required is that thou shouldst lay thy hand by faith, up the head of
the sin-atoning Lamb of God. Hast thou done so? If not, thou hast neither
part nor lot in him; and if thou dost remain in thy present condition, thou
wilt perish in thy sin. But if thou wilt accept Christ as thy Substitute,
thou needest no earthly priest or mediator. So, take him as thine.
“Take him now, and happy be.”
The symbol was one of extreme
simplicity; for, finally, there was nothing to be done to the man’s hand.
The priest was not to wash it, or to read the lined upon it by the aid of
palmistry, or to tattoo it with some sacred sign. No; the man came,
recollect, because he was a sinner; and he laid his hand on the sacrifice
because he was a sinner. The hand that he laid there was a sinner’s hand,
and I believe in Jesus Christ with a sinner’s faith. I say to him, at this
moment, as I said when first I trusted him, —
“Just I am —
without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.”
Do not come to Christ as saints; come
as sinners. Come just at you are, sinful, vile, and polluted, and lay the
hand of simple yet trembling confidence upon the head of Jesus, and say,
“He shall be mine.” If you come to him thus, he will not refuse or reject
you, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
There are some of you, who have been
here a long time, and you are not yet converted. If you do go to hell, I am
clear of your blood. Often have I wept over you when preaching here, and I
have set Christ before you as the one only and open door of salvation, and I
have entreated and besought you to enter; but, if you will not enter, I can
do no more, there must lie with yourselves. You will melt the wax that seals
your own death warrant. The responsibility reefs wholly upon you; lay it not
upon God. If any man is saved, it is of God’s grace, and God’s grace alone;
but if any man is lost, it is by his own free will, and his free will alone.
The will of man is the source of damnation, and the will of God is the
source of salvation. Both those statements are true; therefore, if you
reject the gospel of the grace of God, you bring upon yourselves the just
punishment of your sin.
I do not know that I can say any more
upon this theme, except just this. There may be someone who is saying,
“This plan of salvation is too simple.” Surely, you will not quarrel with
it on that account. I warrant you that, if a man were going to be hanged,
and he could be delivered simply by accepting free pardon, he would not say
that such a plan was too simple. After all, the best things in the world are
very simple. If I want to go from here to Glasgow, it is a simple method
that I have to follow. I have to get to the proper railway station, take my
ticket, and enter the right carriage; then, if all goes well, I shall get
there all right. If I want to go to heaven, it is just as simple. I go by
faith to Christ, and trust myself wholly to him, and so I get there. It is
really a matter of trust when you enter a railway carriage, and you reach
your destination by a power above your own. If I want to communicate with a
friend at the very ends of the earth, I have nothing to do but to step into
a telegraph office, write down what I want to say, and pay the proper
charge, and the message will go all right. Though I cannot trace the wire
which connects the office with my distant friend, I know that he will get my
cablegram in due course. There may be some mystery about the matter; yet,
practically, it is a very simple thing; and believing in the Lord Jesus
Christ is just as simple as that. If a farmer wants a harvest, all the
philosophers in the world cannot tell him how wheat grows, nor can they make
it grow; but he has only to drop his seed into the earth at the right time,
and it will grow by night and by day, though he knows not how. Therefore,
act thou in the same simple, common-sense fashion. Leave off enquiring into
mysteries which thou canst not understand, and puzzling over difficulties
which thy poor brain cannot comprehend.
“Let artful doubts and
Nailed with Jesus to the tree;” —
and do thou, as a little child, fully
trust Jesus as thy Savior, and so thou shalt be saved. God help thee to do
this now, for Christ’s sake! Amen.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. See
for their full selection of highly recommended resources)
Laying the Hand on the Sacrifice
C H Spurgeon
He shall lay his hand upon the head of
the sin offering. Leviticus 4:29
Here we have an emblem of the way in
which a sacrifice becomes available for the offerer. The same ceremony is
commanded in verses Leviticus 4:4, 15, 24, and 33, and in other places: it
is therefore important and instructive.
The question with many souls is how to obtain an interest in Christ so as to
be saved by him. Never could a weightier question be asked.
It is certain that this is absolutely needful; but alas, it has been
fearfully neglected by many. In vain did Christ die if he is not believed
It ought to be attended to at once.
The text gives us a pictorial answer to the question, How can Christ's
sacrifice become available for me?
Let us learn—
I. THE INTENT OF THE SYMBOL
1. It was a confession of sin: else no
need of a sin offering.
To this was added a confession of the
desert of punishment, or why should the victim be slain?
There was also an abandonment of all other methods of removing sin. The
hands were empty, and laid alone upon the sin offering.
Do this at the cross; for there alone is sin put away.
2. It was a consent to the plan of
Some raise questions as to the justice
and certainty of this method of salvation; but he who is to be saved does
not so, for he sees that God himself is the best judge of its rightness, and
if he is content we may assuredly be so.
Substitution exceedingly honours the law, and vindicates justice.
There is no other plan which meets the case, or even fairly looks at it.
Man's sense of guilt is not met by other proposals.
But this brings rest to the most tender conscience.
"What if we trace the
And search from Britain to Japan,
There shall be no religion found
So just to God, so safe to man"
3.It was an acceptance of the victim.
Jesus is the most natural substitute, for
he is the second Adam, The second head of the race; the true idea of man.
He is the only person able to offer satisfaction, having a perfect humanity
united with his Godhead.
He alone is acceptable to God; he may well be acceptable to us.
4. It was a believing transference of
By laying on of hands sin was typically
laid on the victim.
It was laid there so as to be no longer on the offerer.
5. It was a dependence-leaning on the
Is there not a most sure stay in Jesus
for the leaning heart?
Consider the nature of the suffering and death by which the atonement was
made, and you will rest in it.
Consider the dignity and worth of the sacrifice by whom the death was
endured. The glory of Christ's person enhances the value of his atonement
Remember that none of the saints now in heaven have had any other atoning
sacrifice. "Jesus only" has been the motto of all justified ones.
"He offered one sacrifice for sins for
ever" (Heb. 10:12).
Those of us who are saved are resting
there alone; why should; not you, and every anxious one?
II. SIMPLICITY OF THE SYMBOL.
1. There were no antecedent rites. The victim was there, and hands were laid
on it: nothing more. We add neither preface nor appendix to Christ: he is
Alpha and Omega.
2. The offerer came in all his sin. "Just as I am." It was to have his sin
removed that the offerer brought the sacrifice: not because he had himself
3. There was nothing in his hand of merit, or price.
4. There was nothing on his hand. No gold ring to indicate wealth; no signet
of power; no jewel of rank. The offerer came as a man, and not as learned,
rich, or honorable.
5. He performed no cunning legerdemain with his hand. By leaning upon it he
took the victim to be his representative; but he placed no reliance upon
6. Nothing was done to his hand. His ground of trust was the sacrifice, not
his hands. He desired his hand to be clean, but upon that fact he did not
rest for pardon.
Come then, dear hearer, whether saint or sinner, and lean hard upon Jesus.
He taketh away the sin of the world. Trust him with your sin, and it is for
ever put away. Put forth now your hand, and adopt the expiation of the
redeeming Lord as your expiation.
A poor blind woman in Liverpool, after
her conversion, committed many hymns to memory. She was an occasional
attendant upon the old Earl of Derby, the grandfather of the present Earl.
She repeated one of her hymns to him. The old Earl liked it, and encouraged
her to repeat more. But one day, when repeating the hymn of Charles Wesley
"All ye that pass by" she came to the words —
"The Lord in the day of
his anger did lay
Your sins on the Lamb, and he bore them away."
He said, "Stop, Mrs. Brass, don't you
think it should be,—
"The Lord in the day of
his mercy did lay'?"
She did not think his criticism valid;
but it proved that she was not repeating her verses to inattentive ears, and
other indications showed that the blind woman was made a blessing to the
dying nobleman. — Paxton Hood's Life of Isaac Watts.
"When Christmas Evans was about to die, several ministers were standing
round his bed. He said to them, 'Preach Christ to the people, brethren. Look
at me: in myself I am nothing but ruin. But look at me in Christ; I am
heaven and salvation.'"
It is not the quantity of thy faith that shall save thee. A drop of water is
as true water as the whole ocean. So a little faith is as true faith as the
greatest. A child eight days old is as really a man as one of sixty years; a
spark of fire is as true fire as a great flame; a sickly man is as truly
living as a healthy man. So it is not the measure of thy faith that saves
thee — it is the blood that it grips to that saves thee. As the weak hand of
a child, that leads the spoon to the mouth, will feed it as well as the
strong arm of a man; for it is not the hand that feeds thee — albeit, it
puts the meat into thy mouth, but it is the meat carried into thy stomach
that feeds thee. So if thou canst grip Christ ever so weakly, he will not
let thee perish —: The weakest hands take a gift as well as the strongest.
Now, Christ is this gift, and weak faith may grip him as well as strong
faith, and Christ is as truly thine when thou hast weak faith, as when thou
hast come to those triumphant joys through the strength of faith. — Welsh.
The Puritans speak of faith as a recumbency, a leaning. It needs no power to
lean; it is a cessation from our own strength, and allowing our weakness to
depend upon another's power. Let no man say, "I cannot lean"; it is not a
ques-tion of what you can do, but a confession of what you cannot do, and a
leaving of the whole matter with Jesus. No woman could say, "I cannot
swoon"; it is not a matter of power. Die into the life of Christ; let him be
all in all while you are nothing at all.
The Day of Atonement
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 2ND, 1914.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING MAY 9TH, 1869.
“And this shall be an everlasting
statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children, of Israel, for all
their sins, once a year.” — Leviticus 16:34.
WE have taken these words for our
text; the whole chapter, however, will have our attention.
I must be allowed to say at this time,
though I seldom say anything in the way of an apology, that this is not the
place, nor would time serve us, to go into a full exposition of the very
wonderful teaching of this chapter. If we may ever set any portion of
Scripture before another, this is one of the most precious chapters in the
whole compass of revelation, and in some respects the most remarkable of
all. It is so full of wonderfully deep; teaching that, instead of a sermon,
it might require a volume, and then, perhaps, we should scarcely have done
more than skimmed the surface. And there are difficulties, I may also add,
connected with the interpretation, very great difficulties, which have
puzzled the most learned of the Reformed, and of the Puritanic divines, and
I do not at all attempt to solve those difficulties, nor profess that all I
say I might be able to support and carry out. I desire to give, instead of
any attempt at criticism or deep explanation, a simple exposition of this
chapter; bringing out of it, I hope, some truths which, if they do not
belong to the chapter, are, nevertheless, exceedingly precious ones, and
will, I hope, be useful to us all.
In a remarkable way God dealt with
Israel in the wilderness. There were special tokens of his peculiar
presence, as in the cloudy and fiery pillars which were the emblems of his
presence, and in the bright light called the Shekinah, which shone between
the wings of the cherubim which overshadowed the ark. But God cannot dwell
where there is sin. He is a holy being. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of
hosts,” is the song which continually rises into his ears. In order, then,
that he might dwell in the midst of Israel without compromising his
character, he was pleased to appoint one day in the year which was called
“the day of atonement,” which should be considered to purify the camp, and
make it fit to be the dwelling-place of Jehovah.
Nor, God has promised that he will
dwell among men, and he does dwell among his own people at this very time.
He dwelleth with them in a remarkable way. “The Lord is my portion,” saith
my soul. God is the heritage, the friend, the companion of all his people,
but he cannot dwell with these believing men, because of their sin, unless
an atonement be made. The annual atonement among the Jews was the picture of
the great atonement the real atonement, the effectual expiation, which, not
once a year, but once for all, the Lord Jesus Christ has offered, and which
now renders it possible for God to walk with men, and dwell among them.
In the ceremonial of the atonement, in
the chapter before us, there are four things that struck me. The first is: —
I. The Way In Which That Remarkable
Ceremony Set Forth The Sacrifice Made To God’s Honor.
My brethren, the offense of man
against God was, so to speak, a stain upon God’s honor. Man set himself up
in rebellion against the Most High. He stood out, therefore, against the
divine sovereignty: he impugned the divine love: his offense blasphemed the
divine wisdom. Every one human sin is an attack upon the whole character and
life of God, and sin itself is a dishonor done to the glorious attributes of
Jehovah. Before God can be reconciled to man, and deal with him at all,
except by way of retribution, there must be something done to restore the
divine honor. Now, we have it declared, in this revelation, which comes to
us from heaven, that Christ has restored the divine glory fully, and that
since he suffered on the tree, the just for the unjust, God can be gracious
without a violation of his justice, and he can dwell with us, with us poor
fallen creatures, without the marring of the lustre of any single one of his
attributes. The model man has honored God more fully than sinful man ever
dishonored him, and if God was angry with the race for our sins, he is now
towards the race lull of tenderness and pity, because of the transcendent
goodness of the new Head of the race, Christ Jesus our Lord, who has
magnified God’s law and made it honorable.
Now, this is the truth that was taught
in the first part of the ceremony on the day of expiation. It was taught
thus. Two goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle; lots were cast,
and the first goat was selected to teach this lesson. The goat was brought
by the people. It was their common property. It would not have sufficed; it
would not have been of any use at all if it had not been so. Read the
chapter, and you will see. Learn from this that the compensation to God’s
honor for man’s sin must come from men. It was a man in the garden who dared
to rebel: it must be a man, another man, who shall honor God’s law, so as to
set the race in a fresh relationship towards God.
The goat is given by all Israel: the
atonement to God’s honor must come out of our race, and hence it is that our
Lord is the son of Mary, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh: qualified,
being a man, to perform the obedience required of man, and to right as a man
for men, the wrongs which man had done to God. Note that first.
The goat which was brought was given
up to the appointed priest. God will have everything done according to
order. The sacrifice must not be left to the whims and fancies of men. So
the man who shall offer up the sacrifice to the divine honor must be
appointed of God, as Aaron was. And so our Lord Jesus Christ was God’s
chosen one, appointed by God to stand in the gap, and for us to vindicate
the divine glory which we had tarnished by our iniquities.
This goat, being thus offered, must be
presented to God, but there must be something with it. Sweet perfume must be
cast upon the live coals, and the sweet smell must go up before the
mercy-seat. So before ever God can be satisfied for the wrong done to him by
the fall, and by our common sin, there must be an offering of sweet merits
unto him, which, let me say, Jesus Christ has most abundantly offered. He
took his hands full of the most blessed compound of all the graces and all
the virtues beaten small, for there was an exact obedience to every jot and
tittle of the divine law. Christ’s obedience was perfect in its kind, in the
most minute respects; and this merit has been brought before our God, who is
a consuming fire, and burns up every evil work, but as he lays hold upon
this work of Christ, he makes a sweet smell of it — which is poured out
throughout heaven and earth — “the savor of a sweet odour” in the nostrils
of the Most High.
Do not let me cover up, however, what
I mean, under the cloke of allegory. I mean this, that if God is to accept
our race of men, and deal with it on the footing of mercy, and all that we
have done against him, somebody must be found who can be so, obedient, so
delighting in God’s will, that there shall be a sweet offering made, as
morally and spiritually acceptable to God’s Spirit as sweet perfume is to
the nostril of man, and that has been done. When they talk in heaven of
man’s sin — if they ever there speak of it, and wonder how God can bear with
man, some bright seraph speaks of man’s perfect obedience, even unto death,
and they say to one another, “What man, what man is this?” and they clap
their hands with joy as they say, “Tis he that sat at the right hand of the
Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of David.”
One man threw down the race, but
another man has lifted it up. One man brought ruin by the fall: another man
restored it, and made the race acceptable to God. If man dishonored God, yet
man has more honored him than he dishonored him, now that Christ has become
the great representative man.
All the glory of redemption is greater
than ever there could have been of dishonor to God by sin. I believe that
God is more honored by the world having sinned, and having been restored by
Christ, than he could have been if there had never been sin upon this
planet, and if a perfectly sinless race had tenanted its bounds.
After this burning of perfume, the
goat must die. Nothing could permit the justice of God to look upon man at
all until there had been something more than merit. There must be penalty.
“Die he, or justice, must.” Man must die, or God’s justice must die. There
must be blood life poured out for sin. Now, when that goat was put to death,
and the blood flowed forth into the golden bowl, then, brethren, you saw
before your eye of faith Jesus Christ put to death upon Calvary. He who
needed not to have died, the Perfect One, voluntarily offered himself up as
the victim to justice, suffering in his own person, so as to compensate the
justice of God. Do not imagine that Christ died to placate divine vengeance
— not at all, but that it is sternly necessary, if God is to govern this
universe at all, that sin must be punished. The very pillars and the
foundations of moral government would, not to say, be shaken, but actually
be torn up if sin should be permitted, to go unpunished. Now, to vindicate
the justice of God, the sword is drawn, and who suffers?
Not the race. Behold, myriads of the
race go streaming up to everlasting felicity. Who suffers then? Why, a man,
so marvellously perfect, and withal so majestically glorious, that his
sufferings are a recompense to God for all that sin had done, and so made an
effectual expiation for all the transgressions that had dishonored God. You
will observe that I am speaking in very popular, and comprehensive, and
general terms; and designedly so, because I believe I am speaking the
infallible truth of the mind of God; for so far as God is concerned, the
atonement that Christ made was universal in its worth and efficacy.
So far as the vindication of the
justice of God and all his other attributes are to be considered, that
vindication was absolutely complete, and whether one man had been saved, or
fifty men saved, or all saved, or none saved, it would have made no
difference. The work was done; God’s honor was clear; God’s attributes were
glorified, and this was perfectly done by the putting away of Christ.
Once more. The blood was sprinkled on
the mercy-seat seven times. That was typical of Christ, who goes up into
heaven, in his own proper person, and there displays before God, and the
holy angels, and elect spirits, the tokens of his passion, the ensigna of
his suffering, taking the blood up to God that henceforth when the Eternal
mind thinks of sin, and the dishonor done to God by sin, it might think of
the sufferings of the blessed man, Christ Jesus, and see how all dishonor is
for ever put away. You know when you are reading Scripture, dear friends,
you find a great many passages which speak about Christ’s dying for all men,
and about God’s having reconciled the world unto himself, and I know you are
apt to say to me, “You teach us particular redemption that Christ only died
as a Substitute for some men.” That I always say, and stand to, and believe
to be a Biblical doctrine. But do I, therefore, clip away other texts? No,
not in any degree. I believe them as they stand. I count it treason to try
and clip a text, or to make it say the contrary of what it does say. So far
as God’s honor was concerned, the death of Christ for men so obliterated
human sin, as such, that God could, without dishonor to himself, deal with
mankind. Hence it is that the wicked live. Hence it is that they enjoy
innumerable mercies: hence it is that there is a good, strong, substantial
ground for offering the gospel to every man, and a righteous reason for
commanding every man to believe in Jesus Christ that he may be saved.
This was the first teaching of the day
of atonement and every Jew, when he saw, ought to have understood the
presentation of that blood within the veil, that now no longer God looked on
the race as being a race that he must curse and must destroy, but looked
upon it with mercy, and was prepared to treat with it on the footing of
tenderness, and that now there was a gospel presented to the sons of men.
Oh! I do so love this thought, that my sin, which did dishonor to God, which
did as much as say that he was not a good God, that it was better for me to
hate him than to love him, better for me to be his enemy than to be his
friend, made out as though his commandments were grievous, and that it gave
me pleasure to break them — all the mischief towards God that my sin could
ever do is all put away by the holy life and the blessed death of Christ
Jesus my Lord, and put away for ever, for ever, for ever, so that God can
now deal with me on the terms of grace.
But my time flies, and, therefore, I
come to the next point: —
II. Sin Is Now Utterly Driven Away.
There was another goat, and this goat
was to live, and not to die; which set forth quite another truth. I do not
think the common explanation of this is at all correct, and all the
expositors I have met with are clear that it is not correct. Some have said
that the scapegoat typifies our Lord Jesus bearing our sins away in his
resurrection and ascending into heaven. The incongruity of the metaphor has
always struck me, but there are reasons the Hebrew text which prevent our
believing that that could have been the meaning of it. The living goat was
taken by a fit man right away into the wilderness and there it was left.
What became of it afterwards we do not know. Painters have depicted it as
expiring in the midst of desolation, in the agonies of famine — a mere fancy
picture. The scape-goat did not, very probably, die sooner than any other
goat, and it is not at all necessary that it should. We never need enlarge a
topic beyond what Scripture says. Indeed, there is often as much teaching in
a type’s stopping short as there is in its going on.
These two goats had each its name. One
was said to be for Jehovah — that represents Christ, I say, as making
recompense to God’s honor. The other is said to be for Azazel, which, if I
understand it at all, means “for evil.” What, then was that other goat
offered to the Devil? By no means. He is not evil, but one of the
ministering spirits in the service of evil. Evil made Satan what he is. He
is its slave, its chief plotter and schemer, but still not evil itself. Did
you ever notice — you must have noticed — that the wrong of evil, the
sinfulness of sin, even if it were forgiven, works nothing but evil, so that
if God were to forgive us all, but leave the evil in us, we should be in
hell for all that, because evil of itself holds hell, and works towards its
being realised by us. Evil is in itself essentially misery, and it has only
to work itself out, and it will be so.
Now, how am I to get rid of this sin
that is in me as to the evil consequences inherent in the evil? Suppose God
to be perfectly reconciled to me so far, yet still there is an evil that
mischief brings upon me in itself, apart from God, and how do I get rid of
that? Why, through the scape-goat. The sin of the people was, first of all,
transferred to this scape-goat — all confessed and all laid on the
scape-goat. Then, by divine appointment, the scape-goat being chosen by lot,
and the lot being guided by God, it was accepted as being the substitute for
the people. The scape-goat was then taken away, and what was done with it?
Why, nothing was done with it, but this — it was relinquished — it was given
up. Now, can I get out what I mean? I am very much afraid I cannot. Our Lord
Jesus Christ took upon himself the sin of his people, and he was given up to
evil, that is to say, to all the power that evil could put out against him —
first in the wilderness, tempted from all quarters, tempted by the
temptations of Satan; and then, in the garden, tempted in such a way as you
and I never were — the powers of evil let loose upon him as they never were
upon us. Did he not say, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness”?
And so dreadful was the assault of evil upon him, the devil going forth as
the type and incarnation of evil, that he sweat, as it were, great drops of
blood falling to the ground whilst especially on the tree, where the
conflict reached its climax, was he given up.
That cry, “My God! my God! why hast
thou forsaken me?” is like the cry of the goat when it is given up, quite
given up, and led away. Evil was permitted to work out in him all its own
dread hatefulness and havoc, to which it must bring our spirits, unless God
interpose to stop evil from making the soul become unutterably wretched,
even unto death.
I do not know how to get out the
thought which seems to be in my soul, but I do rejoice to think that all the
evil I have ever done shall not go on to plague and vex me, because it has
vexed and plagued him: that all the essential misery that lies in my past
sin, which must, even if God forgave it, still come back to sting and
torment me throughout all my existence, was so laid on him, and so spent all
its force and venom on him, who was given up to it, that it will never touch
You know, brethren, there was no other
man who could have borne all that power of evil but our Lord but it all fell
on him, and yet it never stained his matchless purity and perfection of
character. The misery of it came to him, but the guilt of it could never
defile him. The misery of sin spent itself on the lonely One who was given
up to its awful force, but it could do no more. The type says nothing about
the scape-goat, whether it died or not, and Christ did not die because of
the misery of his spirit; he died for quite another reason, and in another
sense, laying down his life for his people.
There is something, I think,
interesting in this if we can carry it out, but there is this to be said —
by that scape-goat being thus given up the sin of the congregation was taken
away, all taken away, and all gone. And so, through Jesus Christ having
borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows, the whole force and power of
evil to do damning mischief against a saint has been taken away for ever
from everyone of us who have laid our hands by faith upon his dear and
blessed head. It is gone; the sin is gone, gone into the wilderness, where
it shall never be found against us any more for ever.
I must hasten on, however, for time
flies. There was yet a third part of this expiation. Did you notice it? It
is a grand thing when we can see God’s honor clear, it is a grand thing,
next, when we can see ourselves clear as to the effects of evil by Christ’s
taking evil quite away. The third grand thing is to see: —
III. Sin Itself Made The Subject Of
God cannot dwell with us if sin is
petted and loved; sin must be detested and loathed. Now, read on in the
chapter, and you will find that the bullock and the goat which were there,
and whose blood was taken into the holy place, were afterwards burned
without the camp — see the 27th verse. They were burned, and burned with
ignomy, burned outside the camp in the common sewer the kennel of the camp,
and burned, too, under circumstances that imply disgust. “They shall burn
in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung” — put in
purposely to show what a contempt was to be put upon the beasts that had
been for a while made to take and to typify sin.
That burning outside the camp looked
to a stranger like the burning of a heap of rubbish. There was a foul smell
of the burning flesh and refuse. Persons as they passed turned their heads
away to avoid the ill-odour. They would say, “What is all this?” “Why,
this was a sin-offering, and when the blood, which God accepted, had gone,
this was what was left — the filth of sin, and the people were just being
taught how they should hate, loathe, and destroy it. Every man that touched
it washed himself, and no man could touch any of these things that day
without bathing again and again, the thing was so detestable.
Now, in the person of our blessed
Lord, sin is made most detestable. Did you ever hate sin really, until you
learned to love Christ? I will ask you, when do you hate sin most? Why, when
you love Christ best. I believe you shall always find that in proportion as
you understand and see the work of Christ you will see in that work, as in a
glass, that Christ has made sin to be the most loathsome and disgusting
thing that was ever heard of, for what do the angels say — “Man sinned, did
he? Oh! foolish man, to sin against his God and his Maker!” “Ah!” saith
one of the angels, “but he did worse than that; he sinned against the God
that loved him so, that he would sooner let his Only Begotten Son die, than
poor man should perish.” “Oh!” say they, “what a shameful thing to sin
against so dear and kind a God!” If God were a tyrant, it might not seem
atrocious to rebel against him, but when he becomes so dear and tender a
Father as to give his Only Begotten Son, away with thee, sin! Talk of the
Devil! He is not black compared with thee. O sin, thou art the Devil’s
tempter, the Devil’s ruin! Thou makest him black. ’Tis sin, sin that is so
foul a thing that I can liken it unto naught. There is naught on earth,
there is naught anywhere in hell, that can be likened unto it. Sin is made
to appear exceeding sinful and loathsome to the uttermost degree through the
expiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Now, these are three grand things for
God to have done in this world after man sinned, to have made his name as
glorious as ever; after man’s sin, to have set pardoned man straight, as
straight as ever from his sin; and after that, to have made sin which came
with the apple in its hand, and which comes every lay now with painted face,
and with the cup in its hand, filled to the brim with sweet wine, seem
hateful, and to be really so! Oh! it is a grand work, that which Christ has
done, and blessed be his name!
Now, the last point — and I shall want
your earnest consideration for a minute or two — is this. I must call your
attention to: —
IV. The Behavior Of The People
During The Whole Of That Day in which this wonderful panorama was made to
pass before them.
During that day they were to afflict
their souls. Dost thou want to have thy sin forgiven? Put away thy jollity
and thy mirth. A repenting sinner had need to be a mourner, and, brethren,
when sin is put away, how the forgiven sinner afflicts his soul! He is
happy: he never was more happy: never so happy, but how grieved he is to
think he ever sinned!
“My sins, my sins
How sad on thee they fall
Seen through thy gentle patience
I tenfold feel them all.
“I know they are
But still their pain to me,
Is all the grief and anguish
They laid, my Lord, on thee.
“My sins, my sins,
Their guilt I never knew
Till, with thee, in the desert,
I near thy passion drew.
“Till with Thee, in
I heard thy pleading prayer,
And saw the sweat-drops bloody,
That told thy sorrow there.”
Oh! there is never, never such
affliction of soul for sin as when you see the great atonement. Let me
invite you to hate sin to-night, you pardoned ones. Take care to do it. And
you unpardoned ones, rend your hearts, but not your garments, and turn unto
God with afflicted spirits, and say, “Lord, through the precious atonement
of which I have heard so much to-night, blot out my sins!”
The next thing concerning the people
that day was that they were to do no servile work that day. There was to be
no hewing of wood, no drawing of water; nothing was to be done throughout
all the camp by way of labor. So, when a soul comes to the atonement of
Christ, it has done with all its works of righteousness, and all its deeds
of human merit. You can never have the atonement of Christ whilst you are
working out your own works, and trying to be saved by them. And the believer
that has once come to take Christ to be his Savior will never try to get any
merits of his own. Oh! he has thrown away for ever the fooleries of
self-righteousness. He sees the absurdity of hoping that foul, black hands
can ever present a fair, white sacrifice to God. He takes his lord, and he
has done with his own doings.
Once more; it was to be to the people
a Sabbath unto the Lord. That day was not the seventh day of the week, but
still it was to be a kind of Sabbath. And what a glorious Sabbath the
atonement always makes! Why, I feel a Sabbath to-night, apart from the
Sabbath day. I have a Sabbath in my soul, to think that the sin of man has
not, after all, done lasting damage to the throne of God. I feel so happy to
think, next, that there is a special sacrifice made for the elect, by the
scape-goat’s having taken away their sin so that the evil of their sin will
never come on them. I feel so thankful to-night to think that God has made
sin to appear to be exceeding sinful. These three grand things ring a peal
of bells in my soul, for now I feel content, for God is satisfied, to come
to God, because I can see why he should let me come to him.
I can understand now how it is that he
should let a fallen creature hold converse with his thrice holy self, after
his great work is done, and it is better for me, and better for you, that we
should come to God by so good, and reasonable, and proper, and glorious a
way, rather than that we should have been permitted, had it been possible,
to come by any breach of the law, or by any setting aside of the divine
I do not think I should have been
happy had it been possible for me to go to heaven, and God’s honor had
thereby been sullied, for God’s honor is the very happiness of a reconciled
creature, and if that had suffered any loss through me, I should have been
miserable. But it shall suffer no loss or stain. Christ has completely
undone the mischief of the fall, glory be to his blessed name for this!
And now, beloved in the Lord, I wish
that I could speak in the name of you all, and accept the man, Christ Jesus
to-night as our representative. Remember, though he has done this much for
us all, that God can dwell with us, yet he has not taken the sin of us all
upon himself, but only of so many as stand and confess their sin, and trust
it with him. Come, will you do it? Poor sinner, will you do it for the first
time to-night? Backslider, will you do it again? You believers that have
lost some of your evidences, will you do it anew to-night? Oh! I wish I
could now say these words, and you could all say “Amen” from your hearts:
“My faith doth lay
On that dear head of thine;
While, like a penitent I stand
And here confess my sin.”
Well, if you won’t have Christ for
your Savior, I will have him for mine, and there are thousands of you here
who will say, “Yes, and he shall be mine, too.” The longer I live the more
I love to rest upon him. I did try to rest somewhere else once, but the
dream is over, and now the more I think of my Lord, the more firm I feel to
be the conviction that he is a rock that will bear the weight of my
salvation. The more I think of what that glorious Man, that blessed Son of
God, who is as much God as he is man, has done for me, the more do I feel
that if I had fifty thousand times the sin I have, I would rest on him, and
if I were as wicked as all men put together, I would rest on him still,
believing that no amount of sin could outweigh his merit, and that no extent
of iniquity could ever surpass the infinite bounds of his eternal grace. He
is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him. Come to God
by him, poor sinner, and may God the Holy Ghost lead you, and he shall have
the glory. Amen, and Amen.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. See
for their full selection of highly recommended resources)
A Plain Man's Sermon
A SERMON. INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S DAY, JANUARY 17TH, 1886,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“It shall be perfect to be accepted;
there shall be no blemish therein.” — Leviticus 22:21.
THE ceremonial law, as ordained by the
hand of Moses and Aaron, called the worshippers of God to great carefulness
before him. Before their minds that solemn truth was ever made visible, “I
the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” Nothing might be done thoughtlessly.
Due heed was the first requisite in a man who would draw near unto the
thrice-holy God, whose perfections demand lowly and considerate reverence
from all those who are round about him. The spirit must be awake, and on the
stretch, if it would please the great Father of spirits. There were little
points — I may truthfully call them minute — Upon which everything would
depend as to right worship, and its acceptance with the Lord. No Israelite
could come to the tabernacle door aright without thinking of what he had to
do, and thinking it over with an anxious fear lest he should, by omission or
error, make his offering into a vain oblation. He must draw nigh unto the
Lord with great carefulness, or else he might miss his aim, spend his money
upon a sacrifice, cause labor to the priest, and go home unaccepted. He
might duly perform a large portion of a ceremony, and yet no good might come
to him through it, because he had omitted a point of detail; for the Lord
would be sought according to the due order, or he would not be found of the
worshipper. Of every ceremony; it might be said, “It must be perfect to be
accepted.” There was the rule, and the rule must be followed with the most
careful exactness. God must have the minds and thoughts of men, or he counts
that they are no worshippers.
This is no easy lesson to learn, dear
friends; for I am afraid that in our usual worship we are not always as
thoughtful as we ought to be. Mark well our singing. Do we join in it with
the heartiness, the solemnity, and the correctness which are due to him who
hears our psalms and hymns? I may not judge, but I have my suspicions. Look
at the way we pray. Is it not to be feared that at times we rush into God’s
presence and utter the first words that come to hand? Are not liturgies
repeated with minds half asleep? Are not extempore prayers uttered in the
most formal manner? I refer both to public and private prayer. Moreover, see
the style in which some will even preach. With facility of language they
will deliver themselves of their own thoughts, without seeking the anointing
from on high, and the power of the Spirit of God. I do not say that any of
you ever go into your Sunday-school classes without thought; I do not say
that any of you ever take your tract-district, and go from door to door
without seeking a blessing; I will not say that any of you ever come to the
communion table without examining yourselves, and discerning the Lord’s
body; but if I do not say it, I may think it, and possibly that thought may
be true. O, my brethren, let conscience sit in judgment, and decide this
matter! We need to think a great deal more about how we come before the Most
High; and if we thought more, and prayed more, we should become more certain
of our inability to do anything as we ought to do it, and we should be
driven to a more entire dependence upon the Spirit of God in every act of
worship. This in itself would be a great blessing.
I do not know, however, that the
ceremonial law did make men thoughtful; since, for the most part, it failed
of its designed effect through the hardness of men’s hearts. Earnest heed
was the design of it, but superstition and a spirit of bondage were the more
usual results. Brethren, without a multitude of ceremonies, which might
become a yoke to us, let us by other means arrive at the same, and even a
better, thoughtfulness of heart! Let love to God so influence us that, in
the least and most ordinary matters, we shall behave ourselves as in the
immediate presence of the Lord, and so shall strive with the utmost
watchfulness of holy care to please the Lord our God.
The ceremonial law also engendered in
men who did think a great respect for the holiness of God. They could not
help seeing that God required everything in his service to be of the very
The priest who stood for them before
God must be himself in bodily presence the perfection of manhood. When old
age crept upon him, he must give place to one who showed no such sign of
decay. His garments must be perfectly white and clean in his daily service;
and when once in a year there was a joy day, then for glory and beauty he
shone in all the radiance that the purest gold and the most precious stones
could put upon him.
The victims that were offered must all
be without blemish. You are constantly meeting with that demand, and it was
carried out with rigid care. You meet with a stringent instance in the text,
“It must be perfect to be accepted.”
Under the law of Moses, the guilt of
sin and the need of atonement were always most vividly brought before the
mind of the worshipping Israelite. If you stepped within the holy place,
everywhere you saw the marks of blood. Our very delicate-minded friends, who
raise the silly objection that they cannot bear the sound of the word
“blood” — what would they have done if they had gone into the Jewish
tabernacle, and had seen the floor, and the curtain, and every article
stained, like a shambles? How would they have endured to worship where the
blood was poured in bowlfuls upon the floor, and sprinkled on almost every
holy thing? How would they have borne with the continual bespattering of
blood — all indicating that without shedding of blood there is no remission
of sin? Truly, there can be no approach to a thrice-holy God without the
remission of sin, and that remission of sin must be obtained through the
atoning blood. The Israelite, if he thought rightly, must have been deeply
aware that he served a God who was terrible out of his holy places, a God
who hated sin, and would by no means spare the guilty, or pardon man without
atonement. All the more would this be sealed home upon the mind of the
Israelite by the knowledge that in every case the sacrifice must be
unblemished. As he looked on the blood of the victim, he would remember the
sacred rule, “it shall be perfect to be accepted.” He saw in the necessity
for a perfect sacrifice a declaration of the holiness of God. He must have
felt that sin was not a trifle — not a thing to be committed, winked at, and
blotted out; but a thing for which there must be life given, and blood shed,
before it could be removed; and that life and blood must be the life and
blood of a perfect and unblemished offering.
Under the Jewish ceremonial law, one
of the most prominent thoughts, next to a great respect for the holiness of
God, would be a deep regard for the law of God. Everywhere that the
Israelite went he was surrounded by law. He must not do this, and he must do
that: the law was continually before him. Now, brethren, it is a blessed
thing to declare the gospel, but I do not believe that any man can preach
the gospel who does not preach the law. The book of Leviticus, and all the
other typical books, are valuable as gospel-teaching to us, because there is
always in them most clearly the law of God. The law is the needle, and you
cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man’s heart, unless
you first send the needle of the law through the center thereof, to make way
for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are
sinners; and if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the
sin-offering. If the ten commandments are never read in their hearing, they
will not know wherein they are guilty; and how shall they make confession?
If they are not assured that the law is holy, and just, and good, and that
God has never demanded of any man more than he has a right to demand, how
shall they feel the filthiness of sin, or see the need of flying to Christ
for cleansing? There is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no
making him alive till the law has slain him.
I do pray, dear friends, that God, the
Holy Spirit, may lay the law, like an axe, at the root of all our
self-righteousness, for nothing else will ever hew down that Upas-tree. I
pray that he may take the law, and use it as a looking-glass, that we may
see ourselves in it, and discover our spots, and blots, and all the foulness
of our lives, for then we shall be driven to wash until we are clean in the
sight of the Lord. The law is our pedagogue to bring us to Christ; and there
is no coming to Christ unless the stern pedagogue shall lead us there, with
many a stripe and many a tear.
In this text we have law and gospel
too: there is the law which tells us that the sacrifice must be perfect to
be accepted; and behind it there is the blessed hint that there is such an
unblemished sacrifice which is accepted, which we may by faith bring to God
without fear of being rejected. Oh, for grace to learn both law and gospel
at this time!
This is the text for our present
meditation, “It shall be perfect to be accepted.” I want to preach this
truth right home into every heart by the power of the Spirit of God. If I
could be an orator, I would not be. The game of eloquence, with the souls of
men for the counters, and eternity for the table, is the most wicked sport
in the world. I have often wished that there were no such things as rhetoric
and oratory left among ministers, but that we were all forced to speak in
the pulpit as plainly as children do in their simplicity. Oh, that all would
tell the gospel out with plain words! I long that all may understand what I
have to say: I would be more simple if I knew how. The way of salvation is
far too important a matter to be the theme of oratorical displays. The cross
is far too sacred to be made a pole on which to hoist the flags of our fine
language. I want just to tell you things that make for your peace, things
which will save your souls. At least, I would declare truths which, if they
do not save you, will leave you without excuse in that dread day when he,
whose ambassador I am, shall come to judge both you and me.
I. First, then, The Rule Of Our
Text, “It Shall Be Perfect To Be Accepted,” May Be Used To Shut Out All
Those Faulty Offerings Whereon So Many Place Their Confidence
It most effectually judges, and casts
forth as vile, all self-righteousness, although this is the great deceit
wherewith thousands are buoyed up with false hopes. Alas! this is the
destroyer of myriads; and, therefore, I must speak as with voice of thunder,
and words of lightning. Hearken unto me, ye that hope to be accepted of God
by your own doings! Look to what will be demanded of you if you are to be
accepted on your own merits! “It shall be perfect to be accepted; there
shall be no blemish therein.” If you can come up to this rule you shall be
saved by your righteousness; but if you cannot reach this mark, if you come
short in any degree whatever, you must fail of acceptance. It is not said,
“It shall be partially good to be accepted:” or “it shall be hopefully
good.” No. “It shall be perfect to be accepted.” It is not written, “It
shall have no great and grievous blemish;” but “There shall be no blemish
therein.” See you not the height of the standard, the absolute completeness
of the model set before you? Let the plummet hang straight, and see whether
you can build to it; whether, after all, your building is not as a bowing
wall, and as a tottering fence, altogether out of the perpendicular as
tested by this uncompromising text — “It shall be perfect to be accepted;
there shall be no blemish therein.”
Why, look ye, sirs, ye that hope to be
saved by your own doings, your nature at the very first is tainted! God’s
Word assures well that it is so. There is evil in your heart from the very
beginning; so that you are not perfect, and are not without blemish. This
sad fact spoils all at the very beginning. You are yourself blemished and
imperfect. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one. If the
fountain be tainted, shall the streams be pure? Do you think it possible
that you, who are a fallen man in your very parentage, in whom there is a
bias towards evil, can possibly render perfect service unto God? Your hands
are foul; how can your work be clean? How can it possibly be that you should
produce sweet fruit when you as a tree are of sour stock, and of bitter
nature? O my friend, it cannot be that darkness should produce light, nor
death bring forth life! How can your thoughts, and words, and ways, be
perfect? And yet all must be perfect to be accepted.
Look again; for I feel sure that there
must have been a blemish somewhere as matter of fact. As yet you are not
conscious of a blemish, or of a fault; and possibly there is some
justification for this unconsciousness. Looking upon you, I feel inclined to
love you, as Jesus loved that young man who could say of the commandments,
“All these have I kept from my youth up.” But I must beg you to answer
this question — Has there not been a blemish in your motives? What have you
been doing all these good things for? “Why, that I might be saved!”
Precisely so. Therefore, selfishness has been the motive which has ruled
your life. Every self-righteous man is a selfish man. I am sure he is. At
the bottom, that is the motive of the best life that is ever lived which is
not actuated by faith in Jesus Christ. The law is, “Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy
mind.” But you have loved yourself, and lived for yourself: how then can
you have kept the first precept of the law? What has been done by you has
been done either out of a servile fear of hell, or else out of a proud and
selfish hope that you would win heaven by your own merits. These are not
love, nor even akin to it. The absence of love is a flaw, and a very serious
one; it taints and spoils the whole of your life. “It shall be perfect to
be accepted;” and, if the motive be imperfect, then the life is imperfect
Moreover, it is not only your nature
and your motive which are imperfect. My dear friend, you certainly must have
erred somewhere or other, in some act of your life. If you can say that you
have served God and man without fault throughout all your days, you can say
much more than I would venture to do. The Scripture also is dead against you
when it says, “there is none righteous; no, not one.” If you can say that
in no one action of your life, select what you may, was there anything
blameworthy, anything that fell short, anything that could be censured, you
say very much more than the best of men have ever claimed for themselves. As
for the poor faulty being who now addresses you, I dare not claim that the
best deed I have ever done, or the most fervent prayer I have ever prayed,
could have been accepted in and of itself before God. I know that I have no
perfection in my best things, much less in my worst. Tell me, my friend, was
there not something amiss in your spirit? Was there not a shortcoming in the
humility with which you worshipped? or in the zeal with which you served? or
in the faith with which you prayed? Was there not somewhat of omission, even
if nothing of commission? Could not the work have been better done? If so,
it is clear that it was not perfect, for had it been perfect it could have
been no better. Might you not have lived better than you have lived? Might
you not have been more pure, more generous, more upright, more loving, more
gentle, more firm, more heavenly-minded, than you have been? Then this
confession shows that, to some extent, you must have fallen short; and,
remember, “it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish
Ah! I am talking very smoothly now,
for I am only touching the surface, and dealing with guess-work; but I fear
there are greater evils underneath, could all be known. Methinks, if I could
read all hearts, there is not one here, however self-righteous he may be,
who would not have to confess distinct acts of sin. Still, I will keep to
the smooth strain, and believe that you are as good as you seem to be,
indeed, I have a high opinion of many of you. I know how some of you have
lived. You were amiable girls and excellent young women, and have grown up
to be careful, loving wives; and therefore you say, “I never did anybody
any harm; surely I may be accepted.” Or, perhaps, you are quiet young men,
blessed with excellent parents, and screened from temptation, and so you
have never gone into open vice, but have gained a most respectable
character. I wish that there were more like you. I am not condemning you;
far from it; but I know that your tendency is to think that, because of all
this, you must in yourselves be accepted of God. Give me your hand, and let
me say to you, with tears: “It is not so, my sister; it is not so, my
brother. It must be perfect to be accepted; there must be no blemish in
it.” This is a death-blow for your self-confidence; for there was a time,
some day or other in your life, in which you did wrong. What! have you no
hasty temper? Have no quick words escaped you, which you would wish to
recall? What! have you never murmured against God, or complained of his
providence? Have you never been slothful when you ought to have been
diligent? Have you never been careless when you ought to have been
prayerful? Have you always spoken the truth? Has a falsehood never fallen
from your lips? Can you say that your heart has never desired evil — never
imagined impurity? Recollect, the thought of evil is sin; even a wanton
desire is a blemish in the life, and an unchaste imagination is a stain upon
the character in the sight of God, though not in the sight of man. “It
shall be perfect to be accepted.”
I verily used to think concerning
myself that I was a quiet, good, hopeful lad, addicted much to reading,
seldom in brawls, and doing nobody any hurt. Oh! it was the outside of the
cup and the platter I had seen; and when I was led by grace to look inside,
I was astonished to see what filthiness was there. When I heard in my heart
that sentence of the law, “It shall be perfect to be accepted,” I gave up
all hope of self-righteousness; and now I hate myself for having doted upon
such a falsehood as that I could be acceptable with God in myself.
Have you never gone to live in an old
house which looked like new? You had fresh paint, and varnish, and paper in
superabundance; and you thought yourself dwelling in one of the sweetest of
places, till, one day, it happened that a board was taken up, and you saw
under the floor. What a gathering of every foul thing! You could not have
lived in that house at peace for a minute had you known what had been
covered up. Rottenness had been hidden, decay had been doctored, death had
been decorated. That is just like our humanity. We put on fresh paper, and
varnish, and paint, and we look very respectable; and yet from below an
abomination of the sewer-gas of sin comes steaming up, enough to kill
everything that is like goodness within us; while all manner of creeping
lusts and venomous passions swarm in the secret corners of our nature. When
lusts are quiet, they are all there. The best man in this place, who is not
a believer in Christ, would go mad if he were to see himself as God sees
him. No eye could bear the horrible sight of the hell within the human
breast. Yes, I mean you good people — you very nice, amiable, lovable sort
of people! You will have to be born again, and you will have to give up all
trust in yourselves, as much as even the worst of men must do. As surely as
the chief of sinners are unaccepted, so surely are you; for a righteousness
must be perfect to be accepted, there must be no blemish in it; and that is
not the case with your righteousness. You know it is not.
“Well,” says one, “this is very
hard doctrine.” I mean it to be so; for I love you too well to deceive you.
When a door has to be shut to save life, there is no use in half-shutting
it. If a person may be killed by going through it, you had better board it
up, or brick it up. I want to brick up the dangerous opening of
self-confidence, for it leads to deception, disappointment, and despair. The
way to heaven by works is only possible to a man who is absolutely perfect;
and none of you are in that condition. Do not pretend to it, or you will be
arrant liars. I put no fine face upon it — you are not perfect, no, not one
of you; for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Thus, then, our text shuts out all
self-righteousness. It also shuts out all priestly performances. There is a
notion among some people that the priest is to save them, alias the
minister, for men easily in these charitable days make even Dissenting
ministers into priests. I have heard people say, “Just as I employ a lawyer
to attend to my temporal business, and I do not bother my head any more
about it; so I employ my priest or my clergyman to attend to my spiritual
business, and there is an end of it.” This is evil talk, and ruinous to the
man who indulges in it. I will speak of this priestcraft very plainly.
Recollect, “it shall be perfect to be accepted;” therefore all that this
gentleman does for you must be perfect. I do not know what it is that he
does, I am sure. I never could make out what a priest of the Roman or
Anglican order can be supposed to do in his highest function of the mass. I
have seen him walk this way, and I have seen him walk that way; and I have
seen him turn his back, and it has been decorated with crosses and other
embellishments; and I have seen him turn his face; and I have seen him bow;
and I have seen him drink wine and water; and I have seen him munch wafers;
and I have seen him perform many genuflections and prostrations; but what
the performance meant I have not been able to gather. To me it seemed a
meaningless display. I should not like to risk my soul on it; for suppose
that during that service he should think of something that he ought not to
think upon, and suppose he should have no intention whatever of performing
the mass, what then becomes of those who trust in him and it? Everything,
you know, depends upon the intention of the priest. If a good intention be
not there, according to the dictates of his own church, it is all good for
nothing, so that your souls all hang upon the intention of a poor mortal in
a certain dress. Perhaps he has not after all been rightly anointed, and is
not in the apostolical succession! Perhaps there is no apostolical
succession! Perhaps the man himself is living in mortal sin! Ah, me! there
are many dangers about your confidence. Are you going to hang your soul on
that man’s orders or disorders? Mine is too heavy to hang upon so slender a
nail, driven into such rotten wood. If you have a soul big enough to think,
you will feel, “No, no; there cannot be sufficient ground of dependence in
the best pontiff that ever officiated at an altar. God requires of me,
myself, that I bring to him a perfect sacrifice; and it is all a device of
my folly that I should try and get a sponsor, and lay this burden on him. It
cannot be done. I have to stand before the judgment-bar of God in my own
person, to be tried for the sins that I have done in the body; and I must
not deceive myself with the idea that another man’s performance of
ceremonies can clear me at the judgment-seat of Christ. This man cannot
bring a perfect sacrifice for me, and “it must be perfect to be accepted.”
O sirs, do not be deluded by priestcraft and sacramentarianism, whether the
priest be of the school of Rome, or of Oxford: you must believe in the Lord
Jesus for yourselves, or you will be lost for ever!
This text makes a clean sweep of all
other kinds of human confidences. Some are deceived in this sort: “Well,”
they say, “I do not trust in my works; but I am a religious person, and I
attend the sacrament, and I go to my place of worship pretty regularly. I
feel that I must certainly be right. I have faith in Jesus Christ and in
myself.” In various ways men thus compose an image whose feet are part of
iron and part of clay. With that kind of mingle-mangle, many unconsciously
are contenting themselves. But hear ye this word, “it shall be perfect to
be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.” If we trust Christ and
nothing else, that will be perfect; but if you are trusting Christ up to
fifteen ounces in the pound, and yourself for the last ounce of the sixteen,
you will be a lost man; for that last ounce is an ounce of imperfection, and
therefore you cannot be accepted of God.
There are some others who say, “I
have suffered a great deal, and that will make amends.” There is a current
idea among men, that all will go well with poor people, and hard-working
people, because they have had their bad times here. When a man has had a
long illness, and suffered a great deal in the hospital, his friends say,
“Poor soul, he has gone where he is better off!” They feel sure of it,
because he has suffered so much. Ah, me! but “it shall be perfect to be
accepted;” and what is there perfect in a human life, even if it be
chequered with suffering, poverty, and want? Ah, no! poverty does not work
perfection; sickness does not make perfection. My text stands like a cherub,
waving a fiery sword before the gates of Paradise, shutting out all fancies
and notions, of which I will not now speak particularly, by this dread
sentence, “It shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish
II. This brings me to note, with
great delight of heart, that as this rule shuts out all other confidences,
so This Rule Shuts Us Up To The Sacrifice Of Jesus Christ.
O beloved, if I had the tongues of men
and of angels, I could never fitly tell you of him who offered himself
without spot unto God, for he is absolutely perfect; there is no blemish in
He is perfect in his nature as God and
man. No stain defiled his birth, no pollution touched his body or his soul.
The prince of this world himself, with keenest eyes, came and searched the
Savior, but he found nothing in him. “In all points tempted like as we are,
yet without sin.” There was not the possibility of sinning about the
Savior, — no tendency that way, no desire that way. Nothing that could be
construed into evil ever came upon his character. Our perfect sacrifice is
without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
As he was perfect in his nature, so
was he in his motive. What brought him from above but love to God and man?
You can find no trace of ambition in Christ Jesus. In him there is no
thought of self. No sinister or sordid motive ever lingered in his breast,
or even crossed his mind. He was purity and holiness in the highest degree.
Even his enemies have nothing to allege against the purity of the motive of
Jesus of Nazareth.
As his nature was perfect, so was his
spirit. He was never sinfully angry, nor harsh, nor untrue, nor idle. The
air of his soul was the atmosphere of heaven rather than of earth.
Look at his life of obedience, and see
how perfect that was. Which commandment did he ever break? Which duty of
relationship did he ever forget? He honored the law of God, and loved the
souls of men. He gave the character of God perfect reflection in his human
life. You can see what God is as you see what Christ is. He is perfect, even
as his Father who is in heaven is perfect. There is no redundance, or
excess, or superfluity in his character, even as there is no coming short in
Look at the perfection of his
sacrifice. He gave his body to be tortured, and his mind to be crushed and
broken, even unto the death-agony. He gave himself for us a perfect
sacrifice. All that the law could ask was in him. Stretch the measure to its
utmost length, and still Christ goes beyond, rather than falls short of the
measure of the requirements of justice. He has given to his Father double
for all our sins. He has given him suffering for sin committed, and yet a
perfect obedience to the law. The Lord God is well pleased with him; he
rests in the Son of his love, and for his sake he smiles upon multitudes of
sinners who are represented in him. My heart rejoices as I think of
Gethsemane, and Calvary, and of him who by one offering hath perfectly
sanctified all who put their trust in him. “It is finished,” said he, and
finished it is for ever. Our Lord has presented a perfect sacrifice. “It
shall be perfect to be accepted;” and it is perfect. “There shall be no
blemish therein;” and there is no blemish in it. Glory be to God Most High!
Now, I want you just to let me stop
preaching, as it were, while every man among you brings this sacrifice to
God. By faith take it to be yours. You may. Christ belongs to every
believer. If thou trustest him, he is thine. Poor guilty soul, as thou art,
whether thou hast been a Christian fifty years or ten years, or whether thou
art just now converted, if thou believest, thou mayest now come with Christ
in thy hand, and say to the Father, “O my Lord, thou hast provided for me
what thy law requires — a perfect sacrifice; there is no blemish in it.
Behold, I bring it unto thee as mine!” God is satisfied. What joy! God is
satisfied! The Father is well pleased! He has raised Christ from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places in token of that
satisfaction. Let us be satisfied too. That which contents God may well
content me. My soul, when thy eyes are full of tears on account of thy sin,
and thy heart is disquieted on account of thy infirmities and imperfections,
look thou right away from thyself “to the full atonement made, to the
utmost ransom paid.” The offering of Jesus is perfect and accepted. The
righteousness of thy Lord Jesus is without blemish; and thou art “accepted
in the Beloved.”
That delightful passage in Exodus came
flashing up to my mind just now, where the Israelite sprinkled the blood on
the lintel and the two side-posts. Then he shut the door. He was inside: he
did not see the blood any more. The blood was outside upon the posts, and he
could not see it himself; but was he safe? Yes, because it is written,
“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” It is God’s sight of the
blood of his dear Son that is the everlasting safeguard of all who are in
Christ. Though it is most precious and sweet to me to look at that blood
once shed for many for the remission of sins, and I do look at it; yet if
ever there should come a dark night to me in which I cannot see it, still
God will see it, and I am safe. I am saved, because it is written, not
“when you see it,” but “when I see the blood I will pass over you.” It
is the perfection of the sacrifice, not your perfection of sight, which is
your safeguard. It is the absence of all blemish from the sacrifice — not
the absence of blemish from your faith — that makes you to be “accepted in
Well, now, as is too often the case, I
have run on so much upon the first points that I have not time enough for
much more; but I was going to finish up by saying that I address myself for
a minute or two to Christians only. Listen, ye that follow after
righteousness, ye that know the Lord! You are saved. You have not,
therefore, to bring any sacrifice by way of a sin-offering, but you have to
bring sacrifices of thanksgiving. It is your reasonable service that you
offer your bodies a living sacrifice unto God. If you do this you cannot
bring an absolutely perfect sacrifice, but you must labor to let it be
perfect in what is often the Biblical sense of perfection.
Beloved brethren, you must take care
that what you bring is not blind, for the blind were not to be offered. You
must serve God with a single eye to the glory of God. If you attend a
prayer-meeting, or teach a class, or preach a sermon, you must not do it
with a view to your own selves in any way, or it cannot be accepted. The
sacrifice must see; it must be intelligent, reasonable service, having for
its object the glory of God. It must in that sense be perfect to be
And as it must not be blind, so it
must not be broken. Whenever we serve God, we must do it with the whole of
our being, for if we try to serve God with a bit of our nature, and leave
the rest unconsecrated, we shall not be accepted. Certain professors prefer
one class of Christian duties, and they neglect others; this must not be.
Christ gave “himself” for you, and you must give your whole self to him.
To be acceptable the life must be entire; there must be complete
consecration of every faculty. How is it with you? Have you brought to the
Lord a divided sacrifice? If so, he claims the whole.
Next, they were not to bring a maimed
sacrifice: that is, one without its limbs. Some people give grudgingly, that
is to say, they come up to the collection-box with a limp. Many serve Christ
with a broken arm. The holy work is done, but it is painfully and slowly
done. Among the heathen, I believe, they never offered in sacrifice to the
gods a calf that had to be carried. The reason was that they considered that
the sacrifice ought to be willing to be offered, and so it must be able to
walk up to the altar. Notice in the Old Testament, though there were many
creatures both birds and beasts, that were offered to God, they never
offered any fish on the holy altar. The reason probably is that a fish could
not come there alive. Its life would be spent before it came to the altar,
and therefore it could not render a life unto God. Take care that you bring
your bodies a living sacrifice. I notice that many men are all alive when
they are in the shop. The way they talk, the way they call out to the men,
and the way they bustle everybody about, are conclusive evidence that their
life is abundant. But when they get into the church of God, what a
difference! There may be life somewhere or other, but nobody knows where it
is. You have to look for it with a microscope. You see no activity, no
energy. Oh, that these people would remember, “it shall be perfect to be
accepted!” That is to say, there must be energy put into it, soul put into
it, heart put into it, or God will not accept it. We must not bring him the
mere chrysalis of a man, out of which the life has gone; but we must bring
before him our living, unmaimed selves if we would be acceptable before him.
It is then added, “or having a wen.”
It does not look as though it would hurt the sacrifice much to have a wen;
yet there must not be a wen, or spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Above
all, avoid that big wen of pride. When we feel that we are doing a grand
thing, and are acting in a most satisfactory manner, we may know that we are
not accepted. A sermon wept over is more acceptable with God than one
gloried over. That which is given to God with a sigh because you cannot do
more, and with the humble hope that he may accept it for Christ’s sake, is
infinitely superior to that which is bestowed with the proud consciousness
that you deserve well of your fellow-men, if not of your God.
The sacrifice was not to be scabbed,
or to have the scurvy. That is to say, it was to be without any sort of
outward fault. I have heard men say, “It is true I did not do that thing
well, but my heart was right.” That may be, my dear brother, but you must
try and make the whole matter as good as it can be. What a deal of scabbed
service our Lord gets! Men try to be benevolent to their fellow-creatures
with an irritable temper. Certain people try to serve God, and write
stinging letters to promote brotherly love, and dogmatical epistles in favor
of largemindedness. Too many render to the Lord hurried, thoughtless
worship; and many more give for offerings their smallest coins, and such
things as they will never miss. God has many a scurvy sheep brought before
him. Did you never bring any, my brother? Did I never bring any? Ah, me! ah,
me! But still, let us mend our ways; and since the Lord Jesus offered
himself without spot, let us try to serve him with our utmost care. The best
of the best should be given to the Best of the best. We sometimes sing,
“All that I am, and
all I have,
Shall be for ever thine.”
Oh, that we practiced it as well as
sang it! Would God that the best of our lives, the best hours of the
morning, the best skill of our hands, the best thoughts of our minds, the
very cream of our being, were given to our God! But, alas! Christ’s cause is
sent round to the back door to get the broken meat; and, “Mind you do not
leave too much meat on the bone,” is the kind of instruction that is given
to her who hands it out. Christ Jesus is sent to the dung-heap for the odds
and ends. Cheese-parings, and candle-ends are given to the Missionary
Society. Perhaps the statement is too liberal: it would be well if they
were. Threepennies and fourpennies are gracious gifts from struggling
tradesmen and poor work-people; but they are hardly decent when sent in by
folk who spend hundreds of pounds upon their own pleasure. To God’s altar we
ought to bring the best bullock from the stall, and the best sheep from the
fold. I leave you to yourselves to judge whether it be not so. If you are
not over head and ears in debt to the mercy of God in Christ, then it is not
so; but if you are debtors to divine mercy beyond all compute, you shall
each one reckon up for himself, — “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” If
it be a debt you can never calculate, then give the Lord from this day forth
the fullness of your being. May God grant that you and your offerings may be
accepted in Christ Jesus! Amen and amen.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. See
for their full selection of highly recommended resources)
for free. It is an
easy to install and simple to use Bible Verse pop up tool that allows
you to read cross references
in context and in the
Version you prefer. Only the KJV is free with this download
but you can also download a free copy of
which in turn offers
that work with
including the excellent, literal translation, the English Standard
Version (ESV). Other popular versions are available for
purchase. When you hold the mouse pointer over a Scripture reference
anywhere on the Web (as well as offline in Word for Windows, email,
etc) the passage pops up immediately.
can be disabled if
the popups become distractive. This utility really does work and makes
it easy to read the actual passage in context and not just the chapter
and verse reference.