The opening verses of this chapter describe the Lord’s commandment for the golden lampstand in the Tabernacle to be always kept burning; and to that end, the people were to continually supply the priests with pure olive oil. Does this not represent to us the unceasing light which is kept up by the Holy Spirit in the Church of Jesus? It is worth noticing that the oil which was used for the lampstand was to be pure; for everything that is a picture of the Holy Spirit’s Divine agency must be pure, just as He is pure. We may also observe that the children of Israel were to provide the oil, but Aaron was to apply it. Similarly, we have access to the means of grace; but Jesus, our Great High Priest, is the only One Who can make them subservient to the purpose intended. Ordinances are precious things; but if the Lord of ordinances is not in them, the lamp of grace will not burn. It is He Who continually keeps our souls alive, and Who prevents His lamp of grace from ever going out. But let us not forget to pray for all Gospel ministers, that they may always hold forth the Word of life, and never cease to teach and preach about Jesus!
The Lord’s commandment for keeping His table in the Tabernacle always supplied with showbread was given in Exodus 25:30. And no doubt this was a sweet picture of Him Who is the Bread of Life which came down from heaven! There is no famine where Jesus is, for anyone and everyone who is fed by Him shall live forever. How precious is the thought that He is both the true Altar and the true Showbread! All who come to God by Him find that He is like a table spread with living bread, every day and all day – even in the wilderness of this world. And the frankincense that was to be put upon the holy bread in the Tabernacle was surely a representation of the fragrance of Christ’s merits.
The constant supply of new loaves of bread every Sabbath, and the removal of those which had been brought the week before, was a delightful picture of Gospel mercies being supplied to the Lord’s sons and daughters from Sabbath to Sabbath. Jesus is the Bread of Life to His people, and He is to be presented by His ministers – fresh and pure – every Lord’s Day. Let us pray that the ministers of Jesus may never let His table be empty; for Christ’s family needs to be fed from the preached Word, from one Lord’s Day to another.
After reading of these things, we find that the Holy Spirit inserted a short historical narrative into this chapter. The son of a woman named Shelomith blasphemed and cursed the name of the Lord. His father was an Egyptian, even though his mother was an Israelite; and this incident shows the bad effect that commonly results from such mixed marriages between believers and unbelievers. It was bad enough for this man to blaspheme holy things, but to blaspheme the name of the holy God Himself – how awful! However, even though the crime was so enormous, there was still careful deliberation and consultation of the Lord, instead of the people simply reacting and rushing in to mete out punishment. This ought to be a sweet lesson for all the people of God to learn from, in all their little provocations with each other. O that we were patient enough to wait and know what the mind of the Lord is upon all occasions!
A standing law for the stoning of blasphemers was made upon this occasion. Great stress was laid upon this law; it extended even to the sojourners among the people, as well as to those who were born as Israelites. And even if those who profane the name of God escape punishment from men, yet the Lord will not allow them to escape His righteous judgment. What enmity against God must be in the heart of a person, when blasphemies against his own Maker proceed out of his mouth! If those who despised Moses’ law died without mercy, of what punishment will they be worthy who despise the Gospel of the Son of God? Let us pray for grace to be watchful against such evil, and to reverence that holy name which sinners blaspheme.
We read in the twentieth verse that there was to be “breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” Now some might say that this contradicts another and equally-inspired part of the Bible. In Matthew 5, our blessed Lord said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” So how do we explain this apparent contradiction? In reality, these passages that seem to be in antagonism are actually found to be in harmony when they are viewed in their proper light. The “eye for eye” and the “tooth for tooth” was the law for public offences which were punished by the public magistrate in a public manner. But Jesus, in Matthew 5, was speaking of how Christians are to behave toward one another. In essence, He was saying, “In your dealings each other, the ‘eye for an eye’ is not to apply; rather, it must be that whoever ‘will take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.’” Let us beseech the Lord for grace to act in this loving manner toward one another!
Lord, we thank You that our souls are kept alive by the quickening influences of Your Holy Spirit. We pray, Lord Jesus, that You may feed our souls with the Bread of Life; and that Your ministers, who serve in holy things, may be enabled to bring forth continual nourishment for Your people in Your sanctuary. Amen.
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