The Food of the Priests

 •  19 min. read  •  grade level: 7
"And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration and seethe his flesh in the holy place. "And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. "And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof because they are holy. " And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy. "And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them. " And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. " Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall he an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." -Ex. 29:31-3731And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place. 32And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 33And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy. 34And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy. 35And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them. 36And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. 37Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:31‑37)
" And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. "And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire. " And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you. "As he hath done this day, so the Lord bath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you. "Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not: for so I am commanded. "So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses," -Lev. 8:3;1 -3 63And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Leviticus 8:3)
HITHERTO Aaron and his SODS had been comparatively passive; the only action on their part was the laying their hands upon the heads of the various sacrifices. They were now however commanded to eat the flesh of the ram of consecration, (the ram with which their hands had been filled,) and the remainder of the bread of consecrations, (with which also their hands had been filled.) They were to be strengthened for the Lord's service by feeding on " those things wherewith the atonement was made, to fill their hand, to sanctify them." Ex. 29:3333And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy. (Exodus 29:33). Atonement, consecration, and sanctification were all included under the one sacrifice of the ram, and the bread which now became their food, or as it were the source of life to them.
So it is also with the believer. He recognizes Christ as having in His death made a full atonement for his sin, and as having thereby consecrated and sanctified him as a king and priest to God; and the very act of thus contemplating Christ by faith, is life, is Christ within him. Paul as Saul of Tarsus had a revelation of Christ from heaven to him, and this was by the operation of God the revelation of Christ in him. Gal. 1:15,1615But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Galatians 1:15‑16). If Jesus be the object to which as sinners we turn, then we receive him by faith, and " Christ is in us the hope of glory." Col. 1:2727To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27). Faith and life go together. They are synchronous, we cannot place one before or after the other. Christ as our object, becomes Christ in us. And so also as to the nourishment of that life afterward. We grow, and are strengthened, exactly in the same way in which life was originally communicated to us; that is by contemplating the same object, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Looking at Him as an external object, molds and fashions within into His likeness. " We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor. 3:1818But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Moses wist not that his face shone, when he came down from the mount. He had been in converse with God, and had unconsciously to himself, caught some of the glory of the Lord upon his countenance. We shall as surely, though perhaps imperceptibly to ourselves, be transformed into the image of Christ if we keep him constantly before us. Looking within ourselves will not advance us in spiritual growth; neither will mental efforts of our own advantage us; looking of ourselves unto Jesus, will have a transforming power.
The eating of those things wherewith the atonement was made, may have this truth in type. The Lord in John 6, to which reference has already been made, identifies his flesh and blood with bread; and identifies faith, and coming to Him with eating. "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:3535And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35). " That he that seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life," 40. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life," 47. " I am that bread of life "-" that a man may eat thereof, and not die "-" if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever." " Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." " He that eateth of this bread shall live forever," ver. 48, 50, 51, 54, 58. Thus the appropriation of Christ to oneself by faith, believing on Him, is eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It is " to taste that the Lord is gracious." 1 Pet. 2:33If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:3).
Eating is also a type of communion, or fellowship. It is so used in 1 Cor. 10:18-2118Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10:18‑21). " Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? ' They typically partook of the same sacrifices of which God had partaken from off the altar. There can be no partaking with another of the same food, unless there be peace and friendship between the two. (* An interesting question occurs in reading this chapter. Why does the Lord suddenly make use of another Greek word not commonly employed, when He speaks of eating His flesh? The word trogo. v. 54. "Whoso eateth my flesh." 56. "He that eateth my flesh," 57. "So he that eateth me," 58. "He that eateth of this bread." The Lord has all through this chapter previously employed another word, phago; and once only uses this latter word when speaking of eating His flesh. 53. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man." The word trogo in Liddell and Scott's Greek Dictionary, is translated to gnaw or chew, especially of herbivorous animals; and when used "of men, to eat raw vegetables, opposed to eating dressed food." Is this word selected by the Lord, in order to connect more intimately His flesh and blood with the word Bread, and with the manna? It may be proper to observe the use of the participles in the Greek, throughout this chapter. "He that believeth on me," ver. 35.40, 47. "He that eateth," ver. 54, 56, 57, 58. " He that drinketh," ver. 54, 56. In all which instances the present active participle is used to express a continuous action. Not a mere eating and drinking once for all, hut a habit. Faith is an active, continuous habit of the. Soul; it is the constant expression of life-and life is eternal.)
Atonement having been made, and perfect reconciliation established, the priests could eat of the sacrifices in the presence of God; could have fellowship with Him in those very things with which that atonement had been effected. In like manner the Lord's table becomes to the believer a place of fellowship with the Father and the Son. As a saved sinner he takes a place at that table, to remember Christ in God's presence, to worship and bless God for the gift of His Son, and in some measure to enter into God's joy and God's thoughts respecting that Great Salvation effected by Christ. What a wondrous invitation is that given by the Father in Luke 15:2323And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (Luke 15:23): " Let us eat and be merry." And again, " It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad; for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found,' ver. 32.
Do we as we might, and as we ought, enter even now into the joy of our Lord? Do we believe that God has greater delight in saving us, than we have in being saved? Do we gather round the Lord's table that we may rejoice with God in the death of His Son, and delight ourselves in Christ?
Peter in the vision of the sheet let down, had instruction conveyed to him respecting intercourse and fellowship with the Gentiles, under the type of eating He said to Cornelius and those assembled, " Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath skewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Act x. 28. And he subsequently related the vision to the saints at Jerusalem, in answer to their objection to his having gone to men uncircumcised and having eaten with them. Acts 11 Here again eating is employed as a type of intercourse.
We have also a very distinct reference to the same truth in Heb. 13:10-1410We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:10‑14). " We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 'Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
A very full and remarkable passage, to which reference has already been made in page 322, but which it may be well to enter into more fully. We are first told that we have an altar, in contrast with those who serve the tabernacle, and who have no right to eat of our altar. The altar here seems to be identical with the cross-the cross (if we may so say) transferred to the glory. We have a right to eat of the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, slain upon the tree. That flesh and blood was first eternal life to us, and next becomes the sustainment of that life, and enables us to abide in Christ. " He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." John 6:5656He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:56). The word here translated dwelleth is the same that is elsewhere translated abideth. See John 15 throughout.
The secret of abiding in Christ is to be feeding on Christ, especially as crucified for us. Some of the Lord's own people, it may be, desire to abide in Him, and yet know not how to arrive at that blessing. Two things were apparently in the mind of the Lord in John 15 First, that we should abide in Him; and next, that His words should abide in us, so that we might keep them. John 15:4,7,104Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7)
10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10)
. The former is practically attained by constantly eating His flesh, and drinking His blood; the latter will result from a frequent meditation on His life and words. Ever remembering that we have the words of the Lord expanded, if we may so say, in the Epistles.
They who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat of our altar. They have no right nor power to eat of the flesh and blood of Christ. And who, it may: be asked, answer at the present day to those to whom the apostle thus alludes in his day? As a matter of fact there were none, even in Paul's day, who were serving the tabernacle; for the tabernacle had for some centuries been superseded by the temple. But the Spirit of God writes, throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, as if the tabernacle were still in existence; because the principles to be maintained were such as had their more correct types during the tabernacle dispensation, and the sins to be avoided had been brought out in Israel's history during their sojourn in the wilderness, whilst the tabernacle was standing.
So at this present time, although both tabernacle and temple are gone, yet we as believers are looked upon as in the wilderness on our way to our rest; and the same errors are continued, the same false principles openly advocated, as if the tabernacle and temple were still standing. Any that proclaim efficacy in sacraments; any that uphold an order of priesthood distinct from all who are truly believers; any that arrogate to themselves or on behalf of others, the power to convey the Holy Ghost, or to qualify others for spiritual offices in the Church of God; are still serving the tabernacle. They have no right to eat of our altar. And for this reason, they have not owned a sacrifice sufficient to sanctify the people. They contend that something more than " Christ and Him crucified" is needful. They seem to think that the anointing of the Holy Ghost is not solely the consequence of a believer being at his conversion baptized into the body of Christ. They practically deny that " Christ hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father." And they think that priests are to be made after a tabernacle fashion; a human consecration.
The apostle enforces his argument upon the ground that in the tabernacle service, " the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary for sin, are burned without the camp." When a sin-offering was slain of such a high character that its blood was carried either into the holy or most holy places, then the body of the victim was burned outside the camp-no portion was eaten by the priests-all was consumed. In the Antitype, " Jesus that he might sanctify the people with his own blood suffered without the gate." He was the true offering for sin. He suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem; outside that city of solemnities, in reproach and dishonor-outside all ceremonial religion, all observances of fleshly religiousness; outside all formalities. A wondrous reality; not a type or shadow; but the substance of all type and shadow. A true Christ; a true sacrifice; the true " Lamb of God." No human priest had to do with that sacrifice-no fleshly ceremonial was connected with it. Man in all his true-hearted hatred to God was there, an active agent in the work of slaughter. The serpent was present to bruise the heel of the woman's seed; the " sword of Jehovah of hosts smote the man that was his fellow." The marvelous reality made all rituals of priestly service, all sacrifices of old, all type and shadow fade away into insignificance.
The victim on that tree of curse, who shed His own blood of such unspeakable value, made the blood of bulls and of goats utterly worthless. " Lebanon was not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering." The offerer who " offered up himself," forever set aside the Aaronic high priest with all his outward glory and beauty, and all his offerings. The stripes upon the soul of Jesus, which extracted healing virtue for us poor sinners, forever made of none effect, even " ten thousand rivers of oil." The precious blood was borne into heaven itself by the great High Priest in resurrection, and all holy places made with hands were set aside. Henceforth the true worshipper enters with confidence through the blood into the holiest of all, the very presence of the living God, and finds the only Priest he needs already there for him. Sanctified once for all by that one offering, and perfected forever by it, the believer, a true priest himself to God, feeds on the flesh and blood of Him who is the sin-offering; setting aside by that act, even the very form of the Jewish ritual. He needs no outward dress to make him holy; no imposition of human hands to separate him to God; no license from man " to serve the living God," He claims his sanctification, his separation, his consecration, his priesthood, his salvation from Him who suffered without the gate; the Son of God Himself-who has shed His own blood; and he boldly says to all mere human pretenders, to all who trust in carnal ordinances, " you have no right to eat off our altar."
But what follows this simple dependence upon Christ, this full reliance on His death, and on His death alone as all sufficient; " Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Outside the gate of Jerusalem where the blessed Lord suffered is again exchanged for "outside the camp." The church is looked upon like the camp of Israel of old, with the golden calf in the midst. A worldly religion, suited to the flesh, and adapted to keep the consciences of unregenerate sinners lulled in the sleep of death, has been universally adopted. The people can " sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play," and have their religious ceremonies, and prayers, and ordinances, and priesthood, at the same time; and with the name of Jesus mixed with it all. What then is to be the course pursued by the true-hearted worshipper? " To go to Jesus without the camp bearing his reproach " We have been brought nigh to God by His blood within the wail; our path here below is to be outside all human order, all mixed worship, all priestly ceremonial. But it is to Hum; it is to Jesus the crucified, the risen one, that we go; to walk with Him in holy, happy fellowship; to learn from Him the ever deep mysteries of His cross; to glory in that cross, whereby " the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world; " to lean on Him for support and strength, and to bear His reproach.
From whence did that reproach come upon Him? Not only from the openly profane; Herod and his men of war did indeed set him at naught; but chiefly from the temple worshippers, from the established priests and religious sects of the day. They cast Him out; they crucified Him in a place to which they would on no account themselves go, lest it should defile them-" the place of a skull." They preferred to keep the shadow, to trusting the substance. They were careful not to enter the hall of judgment lest they should defile themselves, " but that they might eat the passover," whilst the Lamb of God was in reality suffering on the tree outside the gate. A solemn thought this. The shadow may and does at this very day in ten thousand cases supersede the substance. Men will earnestly contend for a form, a ceremony, a shadow, whilst they utterly reject Him to whom the shadow points. We are exhorted " earnestly to contend for the faith;'' " to hold fast the common salvation," the " great salvation." Common alike to all the Lord's people; alike great to all that receive it. Men will be valiant on behalf of a sacrament, or of a holy day, when they trample at the same time, on the precious blood of Christ, and shrink in every respect from "His reproach."
When superstition is exposed, or when the believer ceases to consent to belong to a worldly church, he will suffer the reproach of Christ. Let but a trifle be added to the truth, and the reproach of Christ will cease. If Paul would only have added an ordinance to justification by faith, the offense of the cross would have been at an end, and he would no longer have suffered persecution. Gal. 5:1111And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Galatians 5:11).
Oh may we be ever in the holiest true worshippers of the Father, and feeding on the Lamb; and know the companionship of Jesus here with us outside the camp; and have the honor and glory of bearing somewhat of His reproach.
"For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come." When the worship of Israel became mixed with idolatry, they made the wilderness their home. " They sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." A religion of form and ceremony, which is in truth a religion mixed with idolatry, will always consist well with worldliness. But we have no continuing city here; this is not our rest; the wilderness is no place for pastime; we are strangers and pilgrims. The blood of the Lamb has separated us to God and to glory. May it be so in truth! May our lives belie our words! Let us remember the beautiful order of these truths. Eat of the altar in the holiest first; go outside to Christ next, and we shall have His reproach; lastly, seek the future city; look earnestly onwards to the coming of the Lord, when that glorious heavenly city will be revealed.
Aaron and his sons were finally directed to abide seven days, day and night, at the door of the tabernacle, and to keep the charge of the Lord. During all this time, a bullock for sin was daily offered upon the altar for atonement. Ex. 29:3636And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. (Exodus 29:36). They were to be habituated to abide before the Lord; and they were to realize the value of the sin-offering, as thus enabling them so to abide there. The seven days of their week of consecration, may in type prefigure the whole of our earthly life. Our whole week of service. We are to accustom ourselves to be in the presence of our God. Our life is to be spent there; only we have the privilege of abiding, not at the door, but in the very holiest of all. May we rejoice to use this wondous liberty of access, and not only " draw near," but " abide under the shadow of the Almighty; " " trusting under his wings." And what will be our help and power for this? The sin-offering of atonement constantly realized, by the help of the Holy Spirit. The precious blood recognized as upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat, carried into the holy of holies.
The chapter concludes with a change of the oft-repeated sentence, " as the Lord commanded Moses," to " So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." They had themselves, through their consecration and the feeding on the sacrifice, power to fulfill God's commands, and to act independently of Moses. The power and intelligence of priests.