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As in the English version, so also in the Hebrew, the special class of sins for which the guilt-offering1111It is to be regretted that the Revisers had not allowed in this case the rendering "trespass-offering" to stand, as in the Authorised Version. For, unlike the more generic term "guilt," our word "trespass" very precisely indicates the class of offences for which this particular offering was ordained. It is indeed true that the Hebrew word so rendered is quite distinct from that rendered "trespass;" yet, in this instance, by the attempt to represent this fact in English, more has been lost than gained. is prescribed, is denoted by a distinct and specific word. That word, like the English "trespass," its equivalent, always has reference to an invasion of the rights of others, especially in respect of property or service. It is used, for instance, of the sin of Achan (Josh. vii. 1), who had appropriated spoil from Jericho, which God had commanded to be set apart for Himself. Thus, also, the neglect of God's service, and especially the worship of idols, is often described by this same word, as in 2 Chron. xxviii. 22, xxix. 6, and many other places. The reason is evident; for idolatry involved a withholding from God of those tithes and other offerings which He claimed from Israel, and thus became, as it were, an invasion of the Divine rights of 156 property. The same word is even applied to the sin of adultery (Numb. v. 12, 27), apparently from the same point of view, inasmuch as the woman is regarded as belonging to her husband, who has therefore in her certain sacred rights, of which adultery is an invasion. Thus, while every "trespass" is a sin, yet every sin is not a "trespass." There are, evidently, many sins of which this is not a characteristic feature. But the sins for which the guilt-offering is prescribed are in every case sins which may, at least, be specially regarded under this particular point of view, to wit, as trespasses on the rights of God or man in respect of ownership; and this gives us the fundamental thought which distinguishes the guilt-offering from all others, namely, that for any invasion of the rights of another in regard to property, not only must expiation be made, in that it is a sin, but also satisfaction, and, so far as possible, plenary reparation of the wrong, in that the sin is also trespass.
From this it is evident that, as contrasted with the burnt-offering, which pre-eminently symbolised full consecration of the person, and the peace-offering, which symbolised fellowship with God, as based upon reconciliation by sacrifice, the guilt-offering takes its place, in a general sense, with the sin-offering, as, like that, specially designed to effect the reinstatement of an offender in covenant relation with God. Thus, like the latter, and unlike the former offerings, it was only prescribed with reference to specific instances of failure to fulfil some particular obligation toward God or man. So also, as the express condition of an acceptable offering, the formal confession of such sin was particularly enjoined. And, finally, unlike the burnt-offering, which was wholly consumed upon the altar, 157 or the peace-offering, of the flesh of which, with certain reservations, the worshipper himself partook, in the case of the guilt-offering, as in the sin-offering, the fat parts only were burnt on the altar, and the remainder of the victim fell to the priests, to be eaten by them alone in a holy place, as a thing "most holy." The law is given in the following words (vii. 3-7): "He shall offer of it all the fat thereof; the fat tail, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar for an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a guilt offering. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in a holy place: it is most holy. As is the sin offering, so is the guilt offering: there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith, he shall have it."
But while, in a general way, the guilt-offering was evidently intended, like the sin-offering, to signify the removal of sin from the conscience through sacrifice, and thus may be regarded as a variety of the sin-offering, yet the ritual presents some striking variations from that of the latter. These are all explicable from this consideration, that whereas the sin-offering represented the idea of atonement by sacrifice, regarded as an expiation of guilt, the guilt-offering represented atonement under the aspect of a satisfaction and reparation for the wrong committed. Hence, because the idea of expiation here fell somewhat into the background, in order to give the greater prominence to that of reparation and satisfaction, the application of the blood is only made, as in the burnt-offering and the peace-offering, by sprinkling "on the altar (of burnt-offering) 158 round about" (vii. 1). Hence, again, we find that the guilt-offering always had reference to the sin of the individual, and never to the congregation; because it was scarcely possible that every individual in the whole congregation should be guilty in such instances as those for which the guilt-offering is prescribed.
Again, we have another contrast in the restriction imposed upon the choice of the victim for the sacrifice. In the sin-offering, as we have seen, it was ordained that the offering should be varied according to the theocratic rank of the offender, to emphasise thereby to the conscience gradations of guilt, as thus determined; also, it was permitted that the offering might be varied in value according to the ability of the offerer, in order that it might thus be signified in symbol that it was the gracious will of God that nothing in the personal condition of the sinner should exclude any one from the merciful provision of the expiatory sacrifice. But it was no less important that another aspect of the matter should be held forth, namely, that God is no respecter of persons; and that, whatever be the condition of the offender, the obligation to plenary satisfaction and reparation for trespass committed, cannot be modified in any way by the circumstances of the offender. The man who, for example, has defrauded his neighbour, whether of a small sum or of a large estate, abides his debtor before God, under all conceivable conditions, until restitution is made. The obligation of full payment rests upon every debtor, be he poor or rich, until the last farthing is discharged. Hence, the sacrificial victim of the guilt-offering is the same, whether for the poor man or the rich man, "a ram of the flock."
It was "a ram of the flock," because, as contrasted 159 with the ewe or the lamb, or the dove and the pigeon, it was a valuable offering. And yet it is not a bullock, the most valuable offering known to the law, because that might be hopelessly out of the reach of many a poor man. The idea of value must be represented, and yet not so represented as to exclude a large part of the people from the provisions of the guilt-offering. The ram must be "without blemish," that naught may detract from its value, as a symbol of full satisfaction for the wrong done.
But most distinctive of all the requisitions touching the victim is this, that, unlike all other victims for other offerings, the ram of the guilt-offering must in each case be definitely appraised by the priest. The phrase is (v. 15), that it must be "according to thy estimation in silver by shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary." This expression evidently requires, first, that the offerer's own estimate of the value of the victim shall not be taken, but that of the priest, as representing God in this transaction; and, secondly, that its value shall in no case fall below a certain standard; for the plural expression, "by shekels," implies that the value of the ram shall not be less than two shekels. And the shekel must be of full weight; the standard of valuation must be God's, and not man's, "the shekel of the sanctuary."
Still more to emphasise the distinctive thought of this sacrifice, that full satisfaction and reparation for all offences is with God the universal and unalterable condition of forgiveness, it was further ordered that in all cases where the trespass was of such a character as made this possible, that which had been unjustly taken or kept back, whether from God or man, should be restored "in full;" and not only this, but inasmuch as 160 by this misappropriation of what was not his own, the offender had for the time deprived another of the use and enjoyment of that which belonged to him, he must add to that of which he had defrauded him "the fifth part more," a double tithe. Thus the guilty person was not allowed to have gained even any temporary advantage from the use for a while of that which he now restored; for "the fifth part more" would presumably quite overbalance all conceivable advantage or enjoyment which he might have had from his fraud. How admirable in all this the exact justice of God! How perfectly adapted was the guilt-offering, in all these particulars, to educate the conscience, and to preclude any possible wrong inferences from the allowance which was made, for other reasons, for the poor man, in the expiatory offerings for sin!
The arrangement of the law of the guilt-offering is very simple. It is divided into two sections, the first of which (v. 14-19) deals with cases of trespass "in the holy things of the Lord," things which, by the law or by an act of consecration, were regarded as belonging in a special sense to Jehovah; the second section, on the other hand (vi. 1-7), deals with cases of trespass on the property rights of man.
The first of these, again, consists of two parts. Verses 14-16 give the law of the guilt-offering as applied to cases in which a man, through inadvertence or unwittingly, trespasses in the holy things of the Lord, but in such manner that the nature and extent of the trespass can afterward be definitely known and valued; verses 17-19 deal with cases where there has been trespass such as to burden the conscience, and yet such as, for whatsoever reason, cannot be precisely measured.
By "the holy things of the Lord" are intended such things as, either by universal ordinance or by voluntary consecration, were regarded as belonging to Jehovah, and in a special sense His property. Thus, under this head would come the case of the man who, for instance, should unwittingly eat the flesh of the firstling of his cattle, or the flesh of the sin-offering, or the shew-bread; or should use his tithe, or any part of it, for himself. Even though he did this unwittingly, yet it none the less disturbed the man's relation to God; and therefore, when known, in order to his reinstatement in fellowship with God, it was necessary that he should make full restitution with a fifth part added, and, besides this, sacrifice a ram, duly appraised, as a guilt-offering. In that the sacrifice was prescribed over and above the restitution, the worshipper was reminded that, in view of the infinite majesty and holiness of God, it lies not in the power of any creature to nullify the wrong God-ward, even by fullest restitution. For trespass is not only trespass, but is also sin; an offence not only against the rights of Jehovah as Owner, but also an affront to Him as Supreme King and Lawgiver.
And yet, because the worshipper must not be allowed to lose sight of the fact that sin is of the nature of a debt, a victim was ordered which should especially bring to mind this aspect of the matter. For not only among the Hebrews, but among the Arabs, the Romans and other ancient peoples, sheep, and especially rams, were very commonly used as a medium of payment in case of debt, and especially in paying tribute.
Thus we read (2 Kings iii. 4), that Mesha, king of Moab, rendered unto the king of Israel "an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool," in payment of tribute; and, at a later day, 162 Isaiah (xvi. 1, R.V.) delivers to Moab the mandate of Jehovah: "Send ye the lambs for the ruler of the land ... unto the mount of the daughter of Zion."
And so the ram having been brought and presented by the guilty person, with confession of his fault, it was slain by the priest, like the sin-offering. The blood, however, was not applied to the horns of the altar of burnt-offering, still less brought into the Holy Place, as in the case of the sin-offering; but (vii. 2) was to be sprinkled "upon the altar round about," as in the burnt-offering. The reason of this difference in the application of the blood, as above remarked, lies in this, that, as in the burnt-offering, the idea of sacrifice as symbolising expiation takes a place secondary and subordinate to another thought; in this case, the conception of sacrifice as representing satisfaction for trespass.
The next section (vv. 17-19) does not expressly mention sins of trespass; for which reason some have thought that it was essentially a repetition of the law of the sin-offering. But that it is not to be so regarded is plain from the fact that the victim is still the same as for the guilt-offering, and from the explicit statement (ver. 19) that this "is a guilt-offering." The inference is natural that the prescription still has reference to "trespass in the holy things of the Lord;" and the class of cases intended is probably indicated by the phrase, "though he knew it not." In the former section, the law provided for cases in which though the trespass had been done unwittingly, yet the offender afterward came to know of the trespass in its precise extent, so as to give an exact basis for the restitution ordered in such cases. But it is quite supposable that there might be cases in which, although the offender was aware that there had been a probable trespass, 163 such as to burden his conscience, he yet knew not just how much it was. The ordinance is only in so far modified as such a case would make necessary; where there was no exact knowledge of the amount of trespass, obviously there the law of restitution with the added fifth could not be applied. Yet, none the less, the man is guilty; he "bears his iniquity," that is, he is liable to the penalty of his fault; and in order to the re-establishment of his covenant relation with God, the ram must be offered as a guilt-offering.
It is suggestive to observe the emphasis which is laid upon the necessity of the guilt-offering, even in such cases. Three times, reference is explicitly made to this fact of ignorance, as not affecting the requirement of the guilt-offering: (ver. 17) "Though he knew it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity;" and again (ver. 18), with special explicitness, "The priest shall make atonement for him concerning the thing wherein he erred unwittingly and knew it not;" and yet again (ver. 19), "It is a guilt-offering: he is certainly guilty before the Lord." The repetition is an urgent reminder that in this case, as in all others, we are never to forget that however our ignorance of a trespass at the time, or even lack of definite knowledge regarding its nature and extent, may affect the degree of our guilt, it cannot affect the fact of our guilt, and the consequent necessity for satisfaction in order to acceptance with God.
The second section of the law of the guilt-offering (vi. 1-7) deals with trespasses against man, as also, like trespasses against Jehovah, requiring, in order to forgiveness from God, full restitution with the added fifth, and the offering of the ram as a guilt-offering. 164 Five cases are named (vv. 2, 3,), no doubt as being common, typical examples of sins of this character.
The first case is trespass upon a neighbour's rights in "a matter of deposit;" where a man has entrusted something to another to keep, and he has either sold it or unlawfully used it as if it were his own. The second case takes in all fraud in a "bargain," as when, for example, a man sells goods, or a piece of land, representing them to be better than they really are, or asking a price larger than he knows an article to be really worth. The third instance is called "robbery;" by which we are to understand any act or process, even though it should be under colour of legal forms, by means of which a man may manage unjustly to get possession of the property of his neighbour, without giving him due equivalent therefor. The fourth instance is called "oppression" of his neighbour. The English word contains the same image as the Hebrew word, which is used, for instance, of the unnecessary retention of the wages of the employé by the employer (xix. 13); it may be applied to all cases in which a man takes advantage of another's circumstances to extort from him any thing or any service to which he has no right, or to force upon him something which it is to the poor man's disadvantage to take. The last example of offences to which the law of the guilt-offering applied, is the case in which a man finds something and then denies it to the rightful owner. The reference to false swearing which follows, as appears from ver. 5, refers not merely to lying and perjury concerning this last-named case, but equally to all cases in which a man may lie or swear falsely to the pecuniary damage of his neighbour. It is mentioned not merely as aggravating such sin, but because in swearing touching any matter, a man 165 appeals to God as witness to the truth of his words; so that by swearing in these cases he represents God as a party to his falsehood and injustice.
In all these cases, the prescription is the same as in analogous offences in the holy things of Jehovah. First of all, the guilty man must confess the wrong which he has done (Numb. v. 7), then restitution must be made of all of which he has defrauded his neighbour, together with one-fifth additional. But while this may set him right with man, it has not yet set him right with God. He must bring his guilt-offering unto Jehovah (vv. 6, 7); "a ram without blemish out of the flock, according to the priest's estimation, for a guilt offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven; concerning whatsoever he doeth so as to be guilty thereby."
And this completes the law of the guilt-offering. It was thus prescribed for sins which involve a defrauding or injuring of another in respect to material things, whether God or man, whether knowingly or unwittingly. The law was one and unalterable for all; the condition of pardon was plenary restitution for the wrong done, and the offering of a costly sacrifice, appraised as such by the priest, the earthly representative of God, in the shekel of the sanctuary, "a ram without blemish out of the flock."
There are lessons from this ordinance, so plain that, even in the dim light of those ancient days, the Israelite might discern and understand them. And they are lessons which, because man and his ways are the same as then, and God the same as then, are no less pertinent to all of us to-day.
Thus we are taught by this law that God claims from man, and especially from His own people, certain rights 166 of property, of which He will not allow Himself to be defrauded, even through man's forgetfulness or inadvertence. In a later day Israel was sternly reminded of this in the burning words of Jehovah by the prophet Malachi (iii. 8, 9): "Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with the curse; for ye rob me, even this whole nation." Nor has God relaxed His claim in the present dispensation. For the Apostle Paul charges the Corinthian Christians (2 Cor. viii. 7), in the name of the Lord, with regard to their gifts, that as they abounded in other graces, so they should "abound in this grace also." And this is the first lesson brought before us in the law of the guilt-offering. God claims His tithe, His first-fruit, and the fulfilment of all vows. It was a lesson for that time; it is no less a lesson for our time.
And the guilt-offering further reminds us that as God has rights, so man also has rights, and that Jehovah, as the King and Judge of men, will exact the satisfaction of those rights, and will pass over no injury done by man to his neighbour in material things, nor forgive it unto any man, except upon condition of the most ample material restitution to the injured party.
Then, yet again, if the sin-offering called especially for faith in an expiatory sacrifice as the condition of the Divine forgiveness, the guilt-offering as specifically called also for repentance, as a condition of pardon, no less essential. Its unambiguous message to every Israelite was the same as that of John the Baptist at a later day (Matt. iii. 8, 9): "Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father."
The reminder is as much needed now as in the days 167 of Moses. How specific and practical the selection of the particular instances mentioned as cases for the application of the inexorable law of the guilt-offering! Let us note them again, for they are not cases peculiar to Israel or to the fifteenth century before Christ. "If any one ... deal falsely with his neighbour in a matter of deposit;" as, e.g., in the case of moneys entrusted to a bank or railway company, or other corporation; for there is no hint that the law did not apply except to individuals, or that a man might be released from these stringent obligations of righteousness whenever in some such evil business he was associated with others; the guilt-offering must be forthcoming, with the amplest restitution, or there is no pardon. Then false dealing in a "bargain" is named, as involving the same requirement; as when a man prides himself on driving "a good bargain," by getting something unfairly for less than its value, taking advantage of his neighbour's straits; or by selling something for more than its value, taking advantage of his neighbour's ignorance, or his necessity. Then is mentioned "robbery;" by which word is covered not merely that which goes by the name in polite circles, but all cases in which a man takes advantage of his neighbour's distress or helplessness, perhaps by means of some technicality of law, to "strip" him, as the Hebrew word is, of his property of any kind. And next is specified the man who may "have oppressed his neighbour," especially a man or woman who serves him, as the usage of the word suggests; grinding thus the face of the poor; paying, for instance, less for labour than the law of righteousness and love demands, because the poor man must have work or starve with his house. What sweeping specifications! And all 168 such, in all lands and all ages, are solemnly reminded in the law of the guilt-offering that in these their sharp practices they have to reckon not with man merely, but with God; and that it is utterly vain for a man to hope for the forgiveness of sin from God, offering or no offering, so long as he has in his pocket his neighbour's money. For all such, full restoration with the added fifth, according to the law of the theocratic kingdom, was the unalterable condition of the Divine forgiveness; and we shall find that this law of the theocratic kingdom will also be the law applied in the adjudications of the great white throne.
Furthermore, in that it was particularly enjoined that in the estimation of the value of the guilt-offering, not the shekel of the people, often of light weight, but the full weight "shekel of the sanctuary" was to be held the invariable standard; we, who are so apt to ease things to our consciences by applying to our conduct the principles of judgment current among men, are plainly taught that if we will have our trespasses forgiven, the reparation and restitution which we make must be measured, not by the standard of men, but by that of God, which is absolute righteousness.
Yet again, in that in the case of all such trespasses on the rights of God or man it was ordained that the offering, unlike other sacrifices intended to teach other lessons, should be one and the same, whether the offender were rich or poor; we are taught that the extent of our moral obligations or the conditions of their equitable discharge are not determined by a regard to our present ability to make them good. Debt is debt by whomsoever owed. If a man have appropriated a hundred pounds of another man's money, the moral obligation of that debt cannot be abrogated by a bankrupt law, 169 allowing him to compromise at ten shillings in the pound. The law of man may indeed release him from liability to prosecution, but no law can discharge such a man from the unalterable obligation to pay penny for penny, farthing for farthing. There is no bankrupt law in the kingdom of God. This, too, is evidently a lesson quite as much needed by Gentiles and nominal Christians in the nineteenth century after Christ, as by Hebrews in the fifteenth century before Christ.
But the spiritual teaching of the guilt-offering is not yet exhausted. For, like all the other offerings, it pointed to Christ. He is "the end of the law unto righteousness" (Rom. x. 4), as regards the guilt-offering, as in all else. As the burnt-offering prefigured Christ the heavenly Victim, in one aspect, and the peace-offering, Christ in another aspect, so the guilt-offering presents to our adoring contemplation yet another view of His sacrificial work. While, as our burnt-offering, He became our righteousness in full self-consecration; as our peace-offering, our life; as our sin-offering, the expiation for our sins; so, as our guilt-offering, He made satisfaction and plenary reparation in our behalf to the God on whose inalienable rights in us, by our sins we had trespassed without measure.
Nor is this an over-refinement of exposition. For in Isa. liii. 10, where both the Authorised and the Revised Versions read, "shall make his soul an offering for sin," the margin of the latter rightly calls attention to the fact that in the Hebrew the word here used is the very same which through all this Levitical law is rendered "guilt-offering." And so we are expressly told by this evangelic prophet, that the Holy Servant of Jehovah, the suffering Messiah, in this His sacrificial work should 170 make His soul "a guilt-offering." He became Himself the complete and exhaustive realisation of all that in sacrifice which was set forth in the Levitical guilt-offering.
A declaration this is which holds forth both the sin for which Christ atoned, and the Sacrifice itself, in a very distinct and peculiar light. In that Christ's sacrifice was thus a guilt-offering in the sense of the law, we are taught that, in one aspect, our sins are regarded by God, and should therefore be regarded by us, as debts which are due from us to God. This is, indeed, by no means the only aspect in which sin should be regarded; it is, for example, rebellion, high treason, a deadly affront to the Supreme Majesty, which must be expiated with the blood of the sin-offering. But our sins are also of the nature of debts. That is, God has claims on us for service which we have never met; claims for a portion of our substance which we have often withheld, or given grudgingly, trespassing thus in "the holy things of the Lord." Just as the servant who is set to do his master's work, if, instead, he take that time to do his own work, is debtor to the full value of the service of which his master is thus defrauded, so stands the case between the sinner and God. Just as with the agent who fails to make due returns to his principal on the moneys committed to him for investment, using them instead for himself, so stands the case between God and the sinner who has used his talents, not for the Lord, but for himself, or has kept them laid up, unused, in a napkin. Thus, in the New Testament, as the correlate of this representation of Christ as a guilt-offering, we find sin again and again set forth as a debt which is owed from man to God. So, in the Lord's prayer we are taught to pray, "Forgive us our debts;" 171 so, twice the Lord Himself in His parables (Matt. xviii. 23-35; Luke vii. 41, 42) set forth the relation of the sinner to God as that of the debtor to the creditor; and concerning those on whom the tower of Siloam fell, asks (Luke xiii. 4), "Think ye that they were sinners (Greek 'debtors,') above all that dwelt in Jerusalem?" Indeed so imbedded is this thought in the conscience of man that it has been crystallised in our word "ought," which is but the old preterite of "owe;" as in Tyndale's New Testament, where we read (Luke vii. 41), "there was a certain lender, which ought him five hundred pence." What a startling conception is this, which forms the background to the great "guilt-offering"! Man a debtor to God! a debtor for service each day due, but no day ever fully and perfectly rendered! in gratitude for gifts, too often quite forgotten, oftener only paid in scanty part! We are often burdened and troubled greatly about our debts to men; shall we not be concerned about the enormous and ever accumulating debt to God! Or is He an easy creditor, who is indifferent whether these debts of ours be met or not? So think multitudes; but this is not the representation of Scripture, either in the Old or the New Testament. For in the law it was required, that if a man, guilty of any of these offences for the forgiveness of which the guilt-offering was prescribed, failed to confess and bring the offering, and make the restitution with the added fifth, as commanded by the law, he should be brought before the judges, and the full penalty of law exacted, on the principle of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!" And in the New Testament, one of those solemn parables of the two debtors closes with the awful words concerning one of them who was "delivered to the tormentors," that he should not come 172 out of prison till he had "paid the uttermost farthing." Not a hint is there in Holy Scripture, of forgiveness of our debts to God, except upon the one condition of full restitution made to Him to whom the debt is due, and therewith the sacrificial blood of a guilt-offering. But Christ is our Guilt-Offering. He is our Guilt-Offering, in that He Himself did that, really and fully, with respect to all our debts as sinful men to God, which the guilt-offering of Leviticus symbolised, but accomplished not. His soul He made a guilt-offering for our trespasses! Isaiah's words imply that He should make full restitution for all that of which we, as sinners, defraud God. He did this by that perfect and incomparable service of lowly obedience such as we should render, but have never rendered; in which He has made full satisfaction to God for all our innumerable debts. He has made such satisfaction, not by a convenient legal fiction, or in a rhetorical figure, or as judged by any human standard. Even as the ram of the guilt-offering was appraised according to "the shekel of the sanctuary," so upon our Lord, at the beginning of that life of sacrificial service, was solemnly passed the Divine verdict that with this antitypical Victim of the Guilt-Offering, God Himself was "well pleased" (Matt. iii. 17).
Not only so. For we cannot forget that according to the law, not only the full restitution must be made, but the fifth must be added thereto. So with our Lord. For who will not confess that Christ not only did all that we should have done, but, in the ineffable depth of His self-humiliation and obedience unto death, even the death of the cross, paid therewith the added fifth of the law. Said a Jewish Rabbi to the writer, "I have never been able to finish reading in the Gospel the story of the Jesus of Nazareth; for it too soon 173 brings the tears to my eyes!" So affecting even to Jewish unbelief was this unparalleled spectacle, the adorable Son of God making Himself a guilt-offering, and paying, in the incomparable perfection of His holy obedience, the added fifth in our behalf! Thus has Christ "magnified this law" of the guilt-offering, and "made it honourable," even as He did all law (Isa. xlii. 21).
And, as is intimated, by the formal valuation of the sacrificial ram, in the type, even the death of Christ as the guilt-offering, in one aspect is to be regarded as the consummating act of service in the payment of debts Godward. Just as the sin-offering represented His death in its passive aspect, as meeting the demands of justice against the sinner as a rebel under sentence of death, by dying in his stead, so, on the other hand, the guilt-offering represents that same sacrificial death, rather in another aspect, no less clearly set forth in the New Testament; namely, the supreme act of obedience to the will of God, whereby He discharged "to the uttermost farthing," even with the added fifth of the law, all the transcendent debt of service due from man to God.
This representation of Christ's work has in all ages been an offence, "the offence of the cross." All the more need we to insist upon it, and never to forget, or let others forget, that Christ is expressly declared in the Word of God to have been "a guilt-offering," in the Levitical sense of that term; that, therefore, to speak of His death as effecting our salvation merely through its moral influence, is to contradict and nullify the Word of God. Well may we set this word in Isa. liii. 10, concerning the Servant of Jehovah, against all modern Unitarian theology, and against all Socinianising teaching; all that would maintain any view of 174 Christ's death which excludes or ignores the divinely revealed fact that it was in its essential nature a guilt-offering; and, because a guilt-offering, therefore of the nature of the payment of a debt in behalf of those for whom He suffered.
Most blessed truth this, for all who can receive it! Christ, the Son of God, our Guilt-Offering! Like the poor Israelite, who had defrauded God of that which was His due, so must we do; coming before God, confessing that wherein we have wronged Him, and bringing forth fruit meet for repentance, we must bring and plead Christ in the glory of His person, in all the perfection of His holy obedience, as our Guilt-Offering. And therewith the ancient promise to the penitent Israelite becomes ours (vi. 7), "The priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven; concerning whatsoever he doeth so as to be guilty thereby."
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