Leviticus 6: 24-26
Isaiah 53: 1-12
PAG In the scripture where we read as to the sin-offering, the word is: “The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it”. I wondered if we might enquire together about that. It is not something that would be attractive to us naturally. Where we read in Isaiah, it says as to the Lord, “when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him”. Israel took account of the Lord and, naturally speaking, they found nothing in Him that they desired, and so it is with us. But when exercises arise amongst us, I believe that the Lord would have us to take account of them, not only as they apply to others, but as they apply to ourselves; that we might search our own hearts to see what there is in me to which the Lord might be drawing attention, by means of the exercises through which He is pleased to pass us. I am not suggesting that this reading should be about self-examination because if we look at ourselves naturally, there is nothing there that gives pleasure to God and nothing there that would be food for our souls either. But, rather, if we look at Christ as God sees Him, and if by the Spirit we get an impression of the One of whom it is said, “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” and the One who, as it says, “was wounded for our transgressions … was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed”, we then come to the point when we say, “All we like sheep have gone astray”. We recognise, as Paul says, in the epistle to the Romans, “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, good does not dwell”, chap 7: 18. But after we have been converted, perhaps in our hearts we go astray again, and the Lord is there to bring us back. Why is He spoken of as “a lamb to the slaughter” and “a sheep dumb before her shearers”? The “good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10: 11) took the place of the sheep, took “a bondman’s form …having been found in figure as a man”, Phil 2: 7, 8.
I am not suggesting that we take the scriptures up sequentially but rather, as taking Leviticus 6 and Isaiah 53 together, we might see that what we are naturally finds nothing in Christ but, by the Spirit, when we are given a real impression of Him and of His moral worth and glory, it would cause us to judge ourselves, having in mind that there should be something greater for God. It says prophetically of the Lord, “He shall see of the fruit of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”, and then “by his knowledge shall my righteous servant instruct many in righteousness”. It would bring us into something greater which would all have in view the glory of God and His service in praise. Could we take these thoughts up?
EJM In chapter 10 where the breakdown came in, the priests did not eat the sin offering; they burnt it. We have fine examples for our souls to feed on the sufferings of Christ. As it says here, “it is most holy”. Psalm 22 says, “And thou art holy, thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel”, v 3. Is there a link between our feeding and appropriating the sin-offering and the service of God?
PAG There certainly is; so when it says, “But let a man prove himself, and thus eat …” (1 Cor 11: 28), what is in view in proving ourselves is that anything that would need to be adjusted can be adjusted, and the sin-offering is available so that it might be so. “And thus eat” is in view of the Supper; so if we examine ourselves and in that sense eat the sin-offering, we are set free to eat the Supper, and we are thus set free for the service of God.
RB Is eating the sin-offering a priestly matter?
PAG Well, that is how it would seem to stand here: “The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it”, but do you think we should all be priests in that sense?
RB I wondered if you would say something about that. You are eating the sin-offering as being sensitive as to the divine feeling regarding the matter. Is that how you understand it?
PAG I would say that, but I think it would bring in the matter of self-judgment. As the priest took up the sin-offering, he would know why it had been offered. If we go to the passage as to one of the people of the land sinning through inadvertence In Leviticus 4, it says, “he” - that is the one who sinned - “shall lay his hand on the head of the sin-offering, and slaughter the sin-offering at the place of the burnt-offering. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof”, v 29, 30. I think the offerer and the priest are to be seen as merged into one in the present dispensation. We take account of the reason why the sin-offering was made, but then we recognise that the Lord is asking me to look within myself and say, ‘Is there anything that ought to be adjusted in me in relation to whatever matter may have come up?’. Do you think that?
RB Do you think that is in line with Matthew’s presentation of how the Lord presented the Supper to them? “Take, eat”, He says, chap 26: 26.
PAG Yes, so there was something to be appropriated there. That would have in view their strengthening, I believe, in the setting of the kingdom, so that kingdom principles and assembly principles can be rightly worked out.
RB Does not eating the sin-offering underlie the principles of the kingdom and the assembly?
PAG Well, if we are going to take up an exercise on the grounds of the teaching of Matthew 18, for example, I think the only way we could do that is if we are self-judged persons. That, of course, means that the whole of the resource of the kingdom is available to us because, as you know, at the end of Matthew 17, the Lord brings in the matter of the sons being free (v 26), and I think that would mean that we take up Matthew 18 in the light of sonship, and the fact that all the resources of the kingdom and all the dignity of sonship apply to our movements in relation to it.
BWL Could you say something about “the place”? “At the place where the burnt-offering is slaughtered shall the sin-offering be slaughtered before Jehovah.”
PAG You can help us, but one thing is that the burnt-offering involves our acceptance, and the burnt-offering, as you know, was exclusively for God. I think as we take this exercise up of eating the sin-offering, we are doing it in the light of the fact that we are accepted by God. There cannot ever be any doubt about that; so it would place us on stable ground as we take up the exercise, do you think?
BWL I think that is very helpful because Leviticus begins with the burnt-offering. You might say that is really what God has in mind, and it would assure our hearts that we have that acceptance, and then, we are working things out in relation to the sin-offering. But I think the same place is very suggestive.
JW Hebrews speaks of Christ “who by the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless to God”, chap 9: 14. That would perhaps be the burnt-offering. I was just thinking about this: “At the place where the burnt-offering is slaughtered shall the sin-offering be slaughtered”. That same offering was made a sin-offering for us in that sense, would that be right?
PAG It was striking to me that just earlier in Leviticus 6 where it speaks of the oblation, it says in verse 17, “As their portion have I given it unto them of my offerings by fire: it is most holy; as the sin-offering, and as the trespass-offering”. I am just linking it with your thought as to the burnt-offering and the sin-offering, it is all one Person.
JW So it is really affecting to think that it was in that offering which was so acceptable to God that God dealt with the sin there.
PAG Indeed, and at what cost. There was great cost involved. You get just a touch in the verse you have quoted in Hebrews of the operations of the Trinity: “who by the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless to God”; the Trinity involved in securing what would be suitable for the heart of God.
JW Say more about the cost.
PAG Well, the Lord offered Himself. That is one side of it. But then as to God: “He who, yea, has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things?”, Rom 8: 32. Divine Persons have not spared themselves. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as being “poured out”: “the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which ye behold and hear”, Acts 2: 33. Divine Persons have not spared themselves in order to get a response.
JL The place that was referred to was in fact the side of the altar, was it not? Does that not link with your thought about the cost involved?
PAG Well, it would, and on that altar, as Leviticus 6 would teach us, the fire was kept burning all the time, v 9. The value of what rises up to God as a result of the sacrifice of Christ is never diminished. Say more.
JL I was thinking it was significant that that was the place where the slaughter of the burnt-offering and the sin-offering both took place, at the side of the altar, so as the priest was carrying that out, he would think of the intensity of the sufferings that the altar represented, would he not, and the cost typically to Christ?
PAG Yes, and he would be reminded in relation to the fire being continual that although there was an intensity of suffering at the cross, yet it says of the Lord “he learned obedience from the things which he suffered”, Heb 5: 8. That would be throughout His life, do you think? There would be a constancy of suffering. It speaks of Him in Isaiah as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. There would be a constancy of suffering, all of which produced fragrance to God.
JL One other thing that interests me is that although the priest had to eat of the sin-offering, there was no provision for the priest to eat of the blood of the sin-offering. What are we to learn from that?
PAG Well, the life is in the blood. The life of Christ was exclusively for God in that sense and the Lord uniquely had the right to lay down His life and to take it again, but I think the fact that there was no provision for the priest to eat of the blood just reminds us that life is entirely God’s matter; but say more about it.
JL I am glad of what you say. I think also it would remind us that although we participate in the benefits from all that has been secured through the sin-offering, we had no part in the atoning work. That was Christ’s alone, which the blood particularly signifies.
PAG That is true and although the cup is given to us and the Lord says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22: 20), the covenant was made in His blood and that was for God. Our enjoyment of the love of God is consequent on that covenant having been made, but we had no part in the making of it.
GAC It struck me as you were introducing the subject that this is all part of a very precious system of things. It has to do with relationships, has it?
PAG I think that is important. God has made provision so that even if anything came in that might mar these relationships, it could be quickly adjusted. So that you get what is for God in the burnt-offering, (Lev 1); then food for our souls in the oblation, really feeding on the Man that was here (chap 2); but then you get the thought of the peace-offering coming in which means that there is something we can enjoy mutually, chap 3. And then the sin-offering comes in to show that God is justified, and the trespass-offering so that if there is anything in the holy things or anything in relation to our relationships with one another (because the trespass-offering covers that), all can be resolved, chaps 4, 5. Then the consecration offering is also mentioned, having in view that there is what goes up to God as a result of persons, priests, being consecrated in order to engage in His service, chap 8. This wonderful system of relationships, you get, brethren, I suppose, in its fulness in John 17: “I sanctify myself for them”, v 19. He has set Himself apart in order that whatever relationships God has in mind to bring us into, all can be protected and preserved in righteousness.
AGM It is interesting that it is to be eaten “in a holy place … in the court of the tent of meeting”. This is not something that is done just anywhere. There is a correct atmosphere for that. I was thinking of the righteousness of God and the holiness of God that underlie all these things.
PAG They do, and we recognise that the blood was the answer to God’s righteousness. We have been taught that the cross was the answer to His holiness, and so all is met. Scripture makes distinctions and we do well to pay attention to them. There is the “holy of holies” or the “holiest”, as it is called, and then there is “a holy place” and then there is “a clean place”. A clean place, I suppose, would relate to our households, but to eat it in a holy place suggests that we do not carry these thoughts into a sphere that is marked by uncleanness, but rather the principle of eating the sin-offering means that we are kept in accord with God’s holiness, and is it right also to say at this point, just to remind ourselves, that holiness is not conferred, nor is it worked up to, but it is by love? So really what was in my mind in referring to Isaiah 53 is that our affections should be drawn out towards Christ.
RB You had better explain that.
PAG Well, faith is a gift. Repentance is a gift from God. God grants repentance, as we know. It says He may give “repentance to acknowledgment of the truth”, 2 Tim 2: 25. But holiness, I believe, involves recognising God’s standard. He Himself is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Hab 1: 13) and, therefore, in order to be brought into that atmosphere of holiness, it really has to be our affections that are brought into play. It says in Leviticus 19: 2 “Speak unto all the assembly of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Holy shall ye be, for I Jehovah your God am holy”. I am referring to that because it does not say, ‘I am conferring holiness upon you’; He says, “Holy shall ye be”, but how are we going to be in that state of complete separation from sin? I think it is only by the attractiveness of divine affections. It is only by being drawn away from the sphere of things which would occupy us and drawn towards the One, that is Christ, who Himself was holy. It is not conferred.
RB I am appreciating what you have said. I was actually thinking of Hebrews 12 where the Father loves the son whom He chastens, but the whole object of chastening is that we should be “partaking of his holiness”, v 10.
PAG It speaks too about being “partakers of the divine nature”, 2 Pet 1: 4. Now, that is love. But it immediately says, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”, showing us that it is the drawing power of divine affection that enables us to separate ourselves from evil.
TM Is Psalm 139 an example of the priest not only offering but eating the sin-offering? In the last verse it says, “And see if there be any grievous way in me”, v 24.
PAG I think that is right and, interestingly, in verse 23 it says:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
prove me, and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any grievous
way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.
So really eating the sin-offering involves us putting ourselves before the Lord; Paul says, “but he that examines me is the Lord”, 1 Cor 4: 4. It is not just for its own sake, but it is “lead me in the way everlasting”. There is something in view in doing this. It is not just an end in itself.
TM There is a wonderful objective lying before us as we eat the sin-offering.
PAG There is. We have an object for our affections, but then I think the intention is that there should be formation in our souls as a result of that.
JW I was thinking of Psalm 22. He says, “why hast thou forsaken me?”, v 1. Does that relate to the sin-offering? I was thinking that in one sense there was nothing in the Lord that the Father would have issue with, but we view Him as made sin there. It says, “And thou art holy, thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel”, v 3.
PAG What you emphasise is important. Scripture is very clear. It says as to Christ “in him sin is not” (1 John 3: 5); so He had to be made something that He was not; and He took that place for you and for me in relation to our sins, “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet 2: 24); but then as Christ was made sin, God dealt with the root of the matter. We are going through Romans locally, and you come to the middle of chapter 5 and Paul in his teaching moves on from dealing with sins to speaking about sin. I was struck by the fact that we may stop - I speak only for myself - at being content to having our sins forgiven without going on to recognise that there is a root principle of sin that cannot be forgiven; it has to be condemned.
JW So from God’s point of view that had to be settled.
PAG And it has been, in righteousness: “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh”, Rom 8: 3. He has done it and He does not need to go back over that ground.
RB I was going to ask another question: does discipline then help us to arrive at the necessity of eating the sin-offering? Eating the sin-offering is not just a religious ritual.
PAG If it is only a religious ritual, ritualism has no place in Christianity, but I think the Lord passes us through certain circumstances in order that we might examine ourselves and in order that we might be free in His presence. Examining ourselves is not in view of self-occupation; it is in view of liberty in the service of God.
JL It says repeatedly in regard of the peace-offering, for example, he “may” eat of it, but that is not said about the sin-offering: he “shall eat it”. There is a divine necessity to come into the gain of what has been effected through the sufferings of Christ in bringing about such settlement for God.
PAG I think so. The link is an indirect one, but I think John 3: 14 bears on it nevertheless: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus must the Son of man be lifted up”. There could not be another way, and there cannot be another way of coming into blessing except recognising that the Lord “bore our sins in his body on the tree”. In other offerings there is “if any man of you” or “if any one”. I hesitate to describe it as optional, but in that sense it is conditional on our desire, but there is no condition attached to the sin-offering.
DCB I was wondering about the fact that there is “the law of the sin-offering”. The various offerings are gone through earlier in Leviticus, as they come in, but they have a law.
PAG Well, we have spoken about holiness, and another thing about holiness is that holiness becomes God’s house, Ps 93: 5. There are certain things that are operating principles. We speak about divine principles, assembly principles. It says very explicitly “God is not a God of disorder but of peace”, 1 Cor 14: 33. There is a god of disorder. If it says “God is not a God of disorder”, then it means there must be one, but it is not God. God operates in an orderly way in everything that He does. The creation, I think, is a demonstration of that and so the fact that there is a law attaching to each of these offerings means that God is setting out how He will be served. It says in John chapter 4, “the Father seeks such as his worshippers”, v 23. That is one side, the side of grace. But He says, “God is a spirit; and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth”, v 24. The word “must” suggests the operating principle. Say more about your impressions.
DCB I am impressed by what is being said, that things can be taken up earlier in Leviticus in the offerings, but then God says, ‘This has to be according to my order and standard’, and what you say as to operating principles is important.
PAG “For neither is there another name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved”, Acts 4: 12. That is God’s principle. Each of the offerings is described as having a law, but then it is important also to notice that it says at the end of chapter 7 of Leviticus: “This is the law of the burnt-offering, of the oblation, and of the sin-offering, and of the trespass-offering, and of the consecration-offering, and of the sacrifice of peace-offering, which Jehovah commanded Moses in mount Sinai”, v 37, 38. So it is one law because it is one Man. We learn each in its phases or parts, but it is one law because it relates to one Man.
EJM The context of the believer having “fruit unto holiness” in Romans 6: 22 is our relation with the world. The “form of teaching” (v 17) as we know is baptism. As believers we have come to it to be dead to the world, a sphere where Christ has been crucified. Holiness is really built up from that point, “fruit unto holiness”.
PAG So John, coming at things from a different standpoint, sheds light on what you say when he says: “Love not the world, nor the things in the world”, 1 John 2: 15. So, if being freed from the influences of the world gives us “fruit unto holiness” and we “love not the world, nor the things in the world”, where are our affections? They will be somewhere.
AGM In chapter 11 Moses was wroth because they did not eat the sin-offering. They burnt it. It has been said that it is easier to burn the sin-offering than to eat it (CAC Outline of Leviticus p115). Do you think the eating involves what is constitutional so that there is a result in the priest as a result of eating the sin-offering? I wonder if that links on with Isaiah 53. We can read it very lightly, but as we go over it and allow the full import to have its effect with us as in the presence of God, it forms us.
PAG This is what is in my mind. It is not simply an abstract statement of the truth. I remember when I was a child reference was made to verses 4, 5 and 6 of Isaiah 53 and we were asked, can you put your name in there? “Surely, he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. Well, that is a general statement of the truth, and we are very thankful for it, but is my name in there?
JL Linking your thought with Isaiah 53, we cannot but be impressed by the numerous times the pronoun “he” is referred to. Is it good to keep before our affections that, not only has the work been most effective and satisfied God and provided for us, but the scripture occupies us with Himself, the Person. “He hath borne our griefs”, and so on. The pronoun comes in many times in that one chapter alone as if to focus our view on Him, do you think?
PAG I think so and my exercise is that as we are increased in our appreciation of Christ, then this matter of eating the sin-offering will not be something that we rebel against, but rather that we desire to do in order that we might be free from anything that hinders. I was struck that in Romans 5 it is a very succinct expression: “by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous”, v 19. I think that links with your thought of “he”. Who is it? Indeed, the man in Acts 8 had to ask, “concerning whom does the prophet say this?”, v 34. “By the obedience of the one”: who is it? It is Christ.
JAS Do you connect this with what we get in John’s epistle as to “a patron with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”, 1 John 2: 1?
PAG Well, if something has come in to mar the relations between myself and the Father, there is One who desires to restore these relations, but say more as to what is in your mind.
JAS As we have been saying, for us the sin-offering involves a Person, and that One is living in the presence of the Father, acting for our release that relationships might be restored.
PAG Well, that is a very important point. Let us not forget that the One who was the sin-offering is living; in the setting of Leviticus, the sin-offering died and that was the end of it, but the One who was the sin-offering, indeed, who brought out the fulness and beauty of all of the offerings, He consumed the fire. He was not consumed by the fire. He went through and He said, “It is finished”, John 19: 30. Of course, He “bowed his head, he delivered up His spirit”, He shed His blood and went into the grave, but He came out again, “raised for our justification” (Rom 4: 25), and He has been glorified and the Spirit has been given. The One of whom we speak who went that way for us is now our Intercessor. He “made intercession for the transgressors”, it says, at the end of the chapter. Think of that! He interceded for the very people who nailed Him to the cross.
RB Does eating the sin-offering then draw us into a holy intimacy with the Lord so that we can speak of Him like Isaiah did in chapter 53? You need to know the Person before you can use this language.
PAG That is good. Chapter 4 begins with “the priest that is anointed” (v 3); and then “the whole assembly” (v 13); and then you get “a prince” (v 22); and then you get “any one of the people”, v 27. Well, I would like to be expanded in my appreciation of the sin-offering because the prince offers “a buck of the goats, a male without blemish” (v 23); that is an advance on the “goat, a female without blemish” (v 28), for “any one of the people”; but then “the priest that is anointed” presents “a young bullock without blemish” (v 3), and what the priest presents is the same as for the sin of the whole assembly, v 14. Now, that brings up another thing. The priest would take responsibility for the whole assembly. You might say, ’That was the fault of that brother over there, he is not very clear about the truth; he ought to have known better; that sister, she did something that was not right’. Well, that might be true, and if such a thing comes in, the brethren have to deal with it, but then am I prepared to take some responsibility for that? Daniel confessed his sins and the sins of the people, Dan 9: 20.
RB That is how we grow, as we accept that, so that there is a sweetness in the service of praise as a result, is there not? As you have been contemplating the Man of Isaiah 53, I am reflecting on a question that was once put in a reading, ‘What might we say to Isaiah about the Man of sorrows?’ That is a challenge.
PAG Well, I think we will all have one centre and one theme when we are in heaven, but we might have something to say to these saints of other dispensations who have had their own experiences with God: “the Spirit of Christ which was in them” (1 Pet 1: 11), it says. That is different from the indwelling Spirit in the present dispensation; nevertheless it says, “the Spirit of Christ which was in them”, so there is something formed, impressions of Christ, given to these saints of a previous dispensation.
RB So the Ethiopian eunuch reads, “his life is taken from the earth” and Philip speaks to him, and immediately the great matter of baptism comes onto view, Acts 8: 33, 36.
PAG I thought the hymn that we began with (Hymn 150) is in a sense a hymn about baptism. We have another Man in another world and we are walking here through the scene in which He has been rejected:
E’en now the Morning Star we see
Of earth’s rejected King.
But then someone in the good of their baptism says, ‘Well, I am finished with that scene that rejected Him and my mind is now set on “the things that are above, where the Christ is”’, Col 3: 1. Baptism carried out in the household on the basis of the faith of the parents is not meant to be the end of the matter. We are meant to come into the good of it.
RB It says, “he was led”. Who led Him? Luke’s gospel gives us two aspects of the Lord being led immediately after baptism.
PAG Well, of course, He was led by the Spirit, as you are suggesting, into the wilderness. That is, I suppose, His submission in dependence and in devotion to the will of His God and Father, but then He submitted Himself too to the hands of wicked men. It says of Him “becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross”, Phil 2: 8. He was obedient to His Father’s will to the extent that He went into “death, and that the death of the cross”, and He says also to certain ones, “this is your hour and the power of darkness”, Luke 22: 53. He submitted Himself to that humiliation because it was His Father’s will that He should do so, but the power is seen in that when “he said to them, I am he, they went away backward”, John 18: 6. They could not stand in the presence of the power. Had He exercised that power, they could not have led Him, but He submitted Himself in devotion to His Father’s will and thus He was led.
RB The Sprit led Him out at the beginning of Luke’s gospel (chap 4: 1) and they led Him out to be crucified at the end of Luke’s gospel (chap 23: 26). That was the last time wicked men would ever lead the Lord; immediately He is risen, He leads His own. He led His own out as far as Bethany, chap 24: 50. Does not the eating of the sin-offering bring us into the area of Bethany, being led by the Lord into that area?
PAG Well, it certainly sets us free in view of coming into all that God has in mind for us, the scope of it. We are led a certain distance on the earth, and then He goes up into heaven. So we break bread in the wilderness, but really we leave the wilderness behind. We are not continually led in the wilderness; we leave that behind.
RB So the One on whom we are feeding as the sin-offering is now “minister of the holy places”, and He is leading the praises. It is the same Person.
PAG It is. We take up at different points different aspects of the Lord’s glory and of His service, and it is good for us to be reminded it is all the one Person. It is good for us too to be intelligent as to what aspect of His glory is proper to a particular moment. We are helped to see that, as we are subject to the Holy Spirit.
TM John is different from the other gospel writers because he gives the burnt-offering, while two other gospel writers give you the forsaking. I wondered if Mark would be an example of one who had eaten the sin-offering because he begins with “Beginning of the glad tidings of Jesus Christ, Son of God”, chap 1: 1. He is bringing the perfect Servant before us.
PAG Yes. So, as you say, you get the forsaking in Matthew and Mark. Mark speaks a lot in his gospel about unbelief, and I think that is evidence of his having eaten the sin-offering because really it was unbelief on his part that caused him to go away. If he can speak about something, it shows that he has judged it and he wants others to judge it in themselves. Similarly Peter says as to the Lord, “who, when reviled, reviled not again; when suffering, threatened not; but gave himself over into the hands of him who judges righteously”, 1 Pet 2: 23. He had judged that in himself, and how did he do it? He saw in the Lord, the One who was perfect in these circumstances.
DCB I was thinking about our brother’s question about the Lord as led, and about the Hebrew bondman where “his master shall bring him before the judges, and shall bring him to the door, or to the door-post”, Exod 21: 6. We can think of the way in which the Father led Him; and see that as far as He could go, the Father went with Him. There came a time when He was alone.
PAG I think so; so His submission to being led by men really is, as has been remarked, all part of his “becoming obedient even unto death”. He was not in that sense being obedient to the men; He was being obedient to His Father’s will in allowing Himself to be led. They could not ever lead Him anywhere that was not in accordance with the Father’s will. Earlier they “led him up to the brow of the mountain” (Luke 4: 29), but He was not cast off because that was not the Father’s will for that moment; so they could not lead Him anywhere that was not in accordance with the will of the Father.
EJM I know it is the burnt-offering in Genesis 22 but it says of the substitute for Isaac, “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns”, v 13. It has often been pointed out the ram was not caught ‘by’ the thicket but he was caught “in” it. It was really the Father’s will that brought Him the full way.
PAG Yes; the horns speak of power. It was the power of the Lord’s affection that held Him. Outwardly He was nailed to a cross. You say that was man’s power; they had mastery over Him; they nailed Him to a cross. But it was not man’s power that held Him there; it was divine love that held Him there. The power of divine love is supreme over man’s wickedness.
AGM Is moral quality seen in the Lord here? “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was as a sheep dumb before her shearers”. There was a moral quality coming out that was different from every other kind of person.
PAG Yes, there was, and the word “as” is important: “he was led as a lamb” and “as a sheep”. It bears on what was said about the Father’s leading. He was not put into that position by some weakness on His own part, but he took that position. He was “as a lamb” and “as a sheep” because it was the Father’s will.
PM We were reading in the Acts during the week and Paul tried to exploit the division in the Jewish council, chap 23: 6. I was just thinking what a contrast this is. It really highlights the perfection of Christ here, the One who was silent, “as a sheep dumb”, the lamb who “opened not his mouth”. It seems to me the perfection of the Lord is highlighted as He comes on to view. At the start of the chapter, we have “as a root out of dry ground”: He comes onto view in a small way; then He begins to captivate our affections, do you think, the One who says, “I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how am I straitened”, Luke 12: 50? Do you think that baptism is along the line of being led?
PAG I think so. In the scripture in Acts you referred to, for the moment the apostle used what you might describe as a natural insight. The Lord never used any such thing. The Lord never used man’s insight to gain an advantage in a situation. All the Lord ever used to decide what to do was the Father’s will. That is all He ever needed to tell Him what to do, the Father’s will. The will of the Father involved that baptism of which you speak, “a baptism to be baptised with”. What a baptism it was! Men speak lightly of a baptism of fire. We know we cannot fathom the depth of the Lord’s sufferings. That point was reached when the Father forsook Him. What can we say? We can scarcely touch it, but the hymn-writer says,
All the depths of Thy heart’s sorrow
Told in answering glory now.
What sorrow it was, but what glory it is!
PM What is the difference between verse 4 and the end of verse 11? In verse 4 it is “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”, and then verse 11: “and he shall bear their iniquities”. How does that bear on what we have been speaking about as the sin-offering?
PAG Well, as to “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”, when that is quoted in Matthew it says, “Himself took our infirmities and bore our diseases”, Matt 8: 17. He bore them in His spirit, I suppose. But then it says in verse 11 “and he shall bear their iniquities”. In a sense our griefs, our sorrows, our infirmities, our diseases are a consequence of our being in a sinful condition, but the Lord bore in His spirit what He saw as the effects of sin. You will recall that He “groaned” (Mark 7: 34) and He “wept” at the grave of Lazarus, John 11: 35. He bore it in His spirit, but then as to bearing our iniquities, He bore these in His body. Is that all right?
PM There is something to think about. There is depth in that. I feel as Isaiah has written, he has not written lightly: this is a concentrated chapter.
PAG So in His spirit as He went along, He bore all that He saw. He even wept over Jerusalem, but then it came to the point where it says, “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet 2: 24), each one enumerated and each one dealt with.
RB Is verse 4 the oblation? There are three aspects of the oblation which are really the Lord’s sufferings in His life, not His sufferings in death. They brought out the perfection of His humanity and one of them was verse 4, as quoted in Matthew. He was suffering in the power of voluntary sympathy as taking on the sufferings of the human family, and felt it as none other could feel it. I am quoting from Mr C H Mackintosh, Notes on Leviticus 2 p55-57.
PAG That is right. That point, too, that He felt it as none other could feel it because He was sinless. There is what is “baken in the oven” (Lev 2: 4), really the most intense side of the heat in relation to the oblation. We see “his sweat became as great drops of blood, falling down upon the earth”, Luke 22: 44. He was not yet on the cross, but He anticipated it there. I think the side of what was “baken in the oven” came out there in the intensity of suffering, and yet still at that point He could say, “Father”. He had not yet reached the point where He would be forsaken. It has often struck me that the Lord knew Psalm 22 before He went through it; He knew it was there.
RB Are we also to enter sympathetically into the sufferings of our brethren at the present time? There is a lot of suffering. Do we just pass it by, or can we enter sympathetically into the sufferings of the saints at the present moment? “And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it”, 1 Cor 12: 26. As Paul says, “the fellowship of his sufferings”.
PAG Yes, saints suffering in their bodies draws out our sympathy, but I think we need to learn too to be sympathetic to saints who are suffering in their spirits. They might not be ill, but it does not mean the suffering is any less; sorrows locally and in families and in households run deep. It is not that we pry into what is going on in individual households of the saints, but we carry in our spirits and in our prayers the depths through which the saints are going, knowing that the Lord Himself has been into these very depths. We have been reminded recently in ministry of the One who “ascended, what is it but that he also descended into the lower parts of the earth”, Eph 4: 9. What depths the Lord has been through, and I think the Lord appreciates it if we seek to carry with Him the things that He carries in the way that only He can.
RB It is not necessarily something we enter into in public prayer: it says, “thy Father who sees in secret”, Matt 6: 4. There is, as it were, a secret link with divine Persons that results in formation.
PAG It does. It is the Father’s love.
JAS I was thinking of the reference to “the travail of his soul”, do you think what you set on as to eating the sin-offering would deepen our appreciation of what it meant to Him so that “He shall see of the fruit of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”? That is a very wide scope and it is a great matter to see what is for His satisfaction.
PAG I am glad you bring that up because I think “the fruit of the travail of his soul” really comes into relief for us when we hear the Lord’s words, “go to my brethren” - that was really “the fruit of the travail of his soul” - “and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God”, John 20: 17. It says, “and shall be satisfied”. I say that because the side of travail is not so much linked with the assembly. There was the “deep sleep” (Gen 2: 21), but “the fruit of the travail of his soul” comes before us immediately at the Supper when He says, “go to my brethren”.
JAS I got a touch on it on Lord’s day morning. I suppose this refers to the remnant primarily, “the fruit of the travail of his soul”, and will yet be seen there. But we are to think of what sonship is - it leads us to the Father; and to think of every family: “the fruit of the travail of his soul”. What a tremendous release there has been secured by Him as the sin-offering that there might be relationships for the Father’s joy and satisfaction.
PAG And then the value of this thought will carry on, as you say, to the remnant. Think of the Lord having to say through the prophet, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought and in vain”, Isa 49: 4. That is how Israel was towards Him then, but He will have them. I lay hold of this: divine Persons are never defeated in their objectives. We come to the end of Luke 15, and get the father going out, and he besought the elder son, and you say, ‘That seems to be the end of the matter’. But in Acts you find the elder son is being addressed again: “God has made him, this Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”. And they say, “What shall we do, brethren? And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptised”, Acts 2: 36-38. The elder son was not listening in Luke 15, but God did not stop the beseeching, and the elder son listened at the beginning of the Acts. It was only the remnant, I accept; it was not the whole of Israel, but God never acts without result.
JAS I was thinking of that in relation to recent exercises, “that he who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ’s day”, Phil 1: 6.
PAG And we might not know how, but He will do it. I say this simply: there is much on the spirits of the saints but I have complete confidence in God that when He has started a work, He will complete it. He will not give up, and we should not give up either. Some of us here have had experience recently of having to say that we can no longer walk with dear ones. That is not the end of the matter. That is not the end of the matter. God will secure His own end in these matters. We must do what is right, and the sorrow involved is deep, but God will reach His own end in these matters, and our desire is to be with Him in it.
BWL Did Paul really encourage the Corinthians to eat the sin-offering? As you say, there were certain things that had to be done, but then they had to feel it, and in what he writes to them in the second epistle you can see that they felt it, their sorrow and repentance and ardent desire; and then they were to encourage the man that there is still love for him. If we have truly eaten the sin-offering are we in that sense looking for recovery?
PAG Paul has to say to them, “ye have not rather mourned” (1 Cor 5: 2), but then they did. “What zeal”, he says (2 Cor 7: 11); he acknowledges that. You think of the Lord when Peter denied Him. It says, “the Lord … looked at Peter … And Peter, going forth without, wept bitterly”, Luke 22: 61, 62. But then what grace. You get the word later on after His resurrection: “The Lord is indeed risen and has appeared to Simon”, Luke 24: 34. The Lord went after the one who had three days before denied Him. He went after him and He would reassure him that all was clear. Well, these are serious exercises, but I just have this impression, simply, the Lord is not finished yet.
BWL Peter “wept bitterly”; that was repentance: there was something in him that the Lord worked in bringing that about. God grants repentance: so there was that that He could link on with.
PAG Well, there was and that is what we seek, that there would be repentance. We can intercede with God for that. We can ask Him to grant it.
DCB You have referred to “He shall see of the fruit of the travail of his soul”; there is an earlier reference to His soul: “thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin”. Could you say something of that in the light of the thought of the sin-offering?
PAG I wondered whether “his soul” would involve the depths of His feelings. The Lord says, “Now is my soul troubled”, John 12: 27. A hymn says:
No act of power could e’er atone,
No wonder-working word
Could, from the brightness of the throne,
Make love’s sweet voice be heard.
If sinners ever were to know
The depths of love divine,
All Calv’ry’s weakness and its woe,
Blest Saviour, must be Thine.
His very soul was affected. Sin was so foreign to Him, so utterly abhorrent to Him. Indeed, one looking on - not that you could look on exactly in the forsaking - through the psalmist commented, “A thing of Belial cleaveth fast unto him”, Ps 41: 8. It was an utterly foreign thing to Him, and yet there was that that was cleaving fast to Him that was abhorrent to His soul.
DCB We need to get that appreciation of how His soul was affected, and even the fact that “thou shalt make his soul an offering”; it is only God who could do that; men could not do that; but there was what there was in His soul that was touched and affected as He took on all these issues on our behalf.
PAG And so we should recognise that the feelings of God were deeply involved in this. You get some touch as to it in Genesis 22: “Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, Isaac”, v 2. God goes over the matter, “thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest”. Think of God’s affections being involved as the One who “has not spared his own Son”, Rom 8: 32.
JL We have to come to the Person to find that, do we not, because none of the typical animals bring that out? There is no reference to the feelings of any of the animals slaughtered, or with the birds, is there?
PAG I agree with what you say. You get something of that, I suppose, in the typical scriptures, the spirit of Christ when Jonah says,
The weeds were wrapped about my head.
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains;
The bars of the earth closed upon me for ever,
Jon 2: 5, 6.
You get the sense of the feelings there being drawn out, but you do not get it in the offerings, so really, that is why the perfect offering had to be a Man. If there was One who was going to be pleasurable to God and stand in our place, it had to be a Man, so that the feelings that were appropriate to God should be in some sense known by us.
JL I think that is very good. I do not say this lightly, but it preserves us from merely focusing our attention on the transaction completed by Christ, but helps us to get our view on Him who carried it out and Him who suffered on our account before God. It attaches our affections to the Person Himself, does it not?
PAG Yes, so even as to the assembly itself, it says, “Christ also loved the assembly, and has delivered himself up for it”, Eph 5: 25. He did not do it, you might say, because it was a requirement of righteousness, even though it was, but that was not the motivation that lay behind it. He loved the assembly; that is why He did it.
EJM At the end of Hebrews 10 where much of the sacrifices and offerings come in, the apostle finishes by saying, “But the just shall live by faith; and, if he draw back, my soul does not take pleasure in him”, v 38. Do you think in that reference “my soul” it is really Paul expressing God’s feelings?
PAG That would be an important thing for us. I think eating the sin-offering has in mind that we feel things as God feels them. Now we cannot, of course, enter into the strength of God’s feelings, God being who He is, but, in character, we feel things as God feels them. Speaking for myself, I often feel things as they might affect me, but we need to feel things as they affect God. If someone wanders or strays, how does God feel about that? His affections are active. The question is, are my affections? I believe the affections of the saints are active, and I think the matters we are passing through, locally and generally, are intended to stimulate our affections for one another. The Lord says, “A new commandment I give to you, that ye also love one another “, John 13: 34. He would act to stimulate that affection amongst the saints because one of the things that abides eternally is love. Think of that! God is giving to us now to experience something that will be our eternal portion.
JB The Lord said in John 6, “Will ye also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom” - not ‘to what’; it is the Person - “shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal”, v 67, 68. He really shows how we get a touch of the value of the offering.
PAG That is good. “Will ye also go away?” As we eat the sin-offering, we say, “All we like sheep have gone astray”, but the Lord is saying, ‘Now, what is it to be?’ As you quote, “to whom shall we go?” - not ‘to what’, not ‘to what denomination or what circumstances’ - “to whom”. We are going to Him. “Thou hast words of life eternal”. It is interesting that that chapter in John 6 is much taken up with what we eat, what we feed on. Well, if we feed on Christ, then we will want nothing else and no-one else, because it is the food which abides; it is not transient food; it is food which abides and forms a heavenly constitution.
RB Do you think Paul served practically as having eaten the sin-offering? So for example in Acts 20 he could descend and bring with him the feelings of heaven in embracing Eutychus.
PAG Yes, I think so. It says, “Paul ... enfolding him in his arms”. Paul was able to identify that “his life is in him”, v 10. It is a great thing, however small a spark of life there might be, to be able to identify it. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench”, Isa 42: 3. We need to be spiritually insightful in identifying life where it exists.
28th June 2014