The first seven verses of this chapter continue to relate some specific sins that called for a guilty person to sacrifice a trespass offering. Although all of the instances that are mentioned here relate to sins done against one’s neighbor, yet they are called a trespass against the Lord. Although the person injured by a sin may be lowly and even despicable in the eyes of the world, yet the injury reflects upon that God Who has made the command of loving our neighbor to be second only to that of loving Himself. Human laws often make a difference as to punishments, but all methods of doing wrong to others are equally violations of the Divine law – even keeping something that is lost-and-found, when the owner can be searched for. If a trespasser wishes to escape the vengeance of God, he must make ample restitution, according to his power; and he must also seek forgiveness by faith in that one Offering which takes away the sins of the world. And the trespasses that are mentioned here are still trespasses against the law of Christ, which insists just as much upon justice and truth as the law of nature and the law of Moses.
The Lord commanded that the fire which burned on the brass altar of sacrifice in the Tabernacle courtyard was to be kept burning at all times. Although it was originally lighted by fire that came down from heaven, it was to be continually maintained and kept alive afterwards by human care. In a similar manner, the Lord lights the spark in our heart; and He expects that by prayer and reading and thinking, we will keep it constantly burning afterward. He does not condone idleness, slothfulness, and sluggishness in our spiritual life.
In this fire on the brass altar, the morning and evening sacrifice was to be offered every day (this is what is being referred to in verse 9). The morning sacrifice, which was a lamb, was offered up at sunrise; and the evening sacrifice, a little before sunset, was also a lamb. This was called the daily burnt offering. John the Baptizer evidently alluded to this daily burnt offering. Perhaps he had just seen the priests, at evening-time, carrying the lamb to the Temple to be slain as the evening offering, when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!” Hereby he directed the people’s attention away from the literal prefigurative lamb that they were carrying to the literal altar; and he encouraged them to turn their eyes upon the true Lamb – the Lord Jesus, Who does indeed take away our sins!
The law of the burnt offerings placed a great deal of care and work upon the priests; the flesh of the animal was entirely burnt, and the priests received nothing for their labor except the animal’s skin. But most of the grain offerings that they offered became their own. A handful of the flour, oil, and frankincense would be burned as the Lord’s portion upon the altar; but the rest would be for the priests to eat. It is God’s will that His ministers in spiritual things should be provided with what is necessary for their support and upkeep in physical things. Those who commit their lives to preaching the Gospel and shepherding the flock of Christ have a right to expect a reasonable support in return for their labors. “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). The only grain offering that the priests were not allowed to partake of was the special grain offering that was offered by Aaron (or his successor) when he was anointed as the high priest. This particular grain offering – consisting of fine flour, baked in a pan with oil – was to be entirely burned upon the altar to the Lord, and not eaten by any of the priests.
This chapter concludes with some further directives concerning the sin offering. The blood of the sin offering was to be washed out of the clothes upon which it might be sprinkled, and this teaches us how highly we ought to regard the blood of Christ – not counting it as a common thing. The vessel in which the flesh of the sin offering was boiled was to be broken, if it was made of clay; but if it was a brass vessel, it was to be washed out very well. This showed that the defilement was not entirely taken away by the offering of these animal sacrifices, but the blood of Christ thoroughly cleanses us from all sin! All these rules set forth the polluting nature of sin, and the removal of guilt from the sinner to the sacrifice. Let us behold and wonder at Jesus’ love! He was content to be made a sin offering for us, thereby procuring our pardon for our continual sins and failings! He Who knew no sin was made a sin offering for us (2 Cor. 5:21). By Him, we have pardon – and not only pardon, but also power against sin! (Rom. 8:3)
Lord, we seek for grace to be forever keeping our eyes steadily fixed upon Him Who is the only true sacrifice for sin, and the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. We cannot imagine the full sense of the awful malignity of sin, as it must appear in Your eye, O God; for Your holy justice could not pardon it with a sacrifice less than the blood of Your dear Son. Keep Your servants from presumptuous sins; and although we desire to live in uprightness and holiness, we pray for grace that we may never seek justification by the deeds of the law, but only by the blood and righteousness of our precious Redeemer. Amen.
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