Leviticus 23: 15-22
After the general thought of the Sabbath and the Passover, we find in verses 9-14 of this chapter a figure of the resurrection of Christ in the wave sheaf on “the next day after the sabbath”.
The Christian dispensation is based on two great facts: the resurrection of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit which verses 15-22, that we have just read.
At the time of the wave sheaf, there is the burnt offering but no sin offering at all. Seven weeks later, at Pentecost (v 15), the two loaves offered are baked with leaven. The resurrection removes sin but the gift of the Holy Spirit does not remove it. That is why, at Pentecost, a goat is offered as a sin offering. The life which we have received from Jesus raised is essentially without sin; sin cannot enter there, any more than it ever entered in Christ. He came into contact with sin constantly without ever being touched or defiled by it. The Spirit of holiness which was with Him during His life was the same Spirit by which He has been declared Son of God in power by resurrection of the dead (Rom 1: 4). The resurrection leaves the fallen human nature entirely aside. That of Christ forms the basis of the presentation of the church before God, in communicating a new life to it. This resurrection life is hid with Christ in God, but the presence of the Holy Spirit manifests in a very particular way the Christian’s character down here.
Christ glorified, who represents us before God, sends the Holy Spirit down here and manifests His presence by certain results. If the Holy Spirit is grieved, the witness is lost in proportion; if He acts with power, the testimony is bright. This “Comforter” has been given to us to abide with us for ever, and the judgment of God on His church simply consists of pronouncing how far it has responded to the presence of the Holy Spirit in its midst. This power of the Holy Spirit manifests itself in believers in the midst of the evil which surrounds them, but for all that, without the world being changed in any way.
One cannot separate the Spirit acting in grace from the Spirit acting in power, for there is only one Spirit. They had more power than grace in Corinth, and the Holy Spirit reproves the Corinthians in this respect; but both one and the other manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit. The miracles are called “works of power of the age to come” (Heb 6: 5); they were samples of the power of Christ which will drive evil out of the world. By the Spirit, Christ came in power and grace in the midst of evil. The grace is eternal, but the power which drives out evil will no longer need to be manifested when it has finished its work.
If the church does not act in the power of the Spirit against the world, the world will act against the church with the power of Satan, its prince, who is always ready to lead it. Christ reassures us in showing us that the Spirit who is in us is stronger than he that is in the world (1 John 4: 4); but if the church does not manifest itself in power, it is invaded by error and conquered by the world. This is also what has happened to it.
The gift of tongues such as was manifested first of all at Pentecost was the smallest of the gifts, but it was a great manifestation of grace towards the Gentiles. At Babel, God had smitten the pride of man and separated the peoples by the confusion of tongues. From the moment the Holy Spirit is given, He crosses the Jewish barrier and speaks the great things of God to every nation in its own tongue. This fact signalled the power of Christianity; it was the sign that the glad tidings are addressed to all those who have need of it.
Pentecost was thus the blessed manifestation that God was in the world and deployed there in grace a power greater than that of Satan.
This leads me to another remark. These things took place on the earth; the Holy Spirit is sent down here from on high, and abides here as the Comforter. He manifests the Name of the Father and of the Son. He is God from all eternity, one with the Father and the Son. He is not an incarnation but He is a power in man down here on the earth.
The more I read the New Testament, the more I am struck to see how much the presence of the Holy Spirit is brought to light there. In Romans 7, there is no mention either of Christ or of the Holy Spirit where it is a question of the state of an awakened soul under the law; but in chapter 8, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit which marks that state of the liberated soul even to the resurrection of the body. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”, Rom 5: 5. God Himself is there by His Spirit. Salvation depends entirely upon His love for us, and the heart realises this practically in answering by love to the nature of Him who is love, and who is in us. The affections cannot manifest themselves without the heart having an object, and for that we need besides the life of resurrection, the power of the Holy Spirit who takes the things of Christ and brings them to us, bringing into action in us the faculties of the new man.
By His presence, the Holy Spirit renders testimony that we are children of God. In Him we possess Someone who gives us more than a rule of life, who leads us in holiness. He gives us the understanding of the will and thought of God, for we have an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things, 1 John 2: 20. The Holy Spirit attaches us to heaven by our needs and intercedes “with groanings which cannot be uttered”, Rom 8: 26. He glorifies Christ in communicating to us the things which are of Him; He maintains the church in its relations with the glorified Man. He does not only testify of the love of God: He shows the glory given to the Son of man. He acts according to this glory, and the church is the vessel called to contain it in the midst of this world; for the church is the tabernacle of God in Spirit, Eph 2: 22.
As a fact, outwardly, such a thing hardly exists any more and it is impossible that the church can be satisfied with the way in which it manifests this glory before possessing it in reality. In as much as He is love, the Holy Spirit longs after the time when, all corruption having come to an end, the glory will be fully manifested. The more the church understands that, the more she longs, even for the world, after the moment when she will be manifested. It is this which makes her say, “Come!”, She desires to see the day of the Son of man shine everywhere, and in waiting for it, she says by the Spirit, ‘I already have the river of living water’, and addressing the world, she offers it [God’s] salvation: “Let him that is athirst come; he that will, let him take of the water of life freely”, Rev 22: 7.
When we have truly grasped the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit down here, we have the deep feeling of our own poverty, and we are amazed in seeing the state into which the church is fallen, having regard to the way in which the Spirit was manifested in her at the beginning.
The Holy Spirit has come to manifest the glory of Christ down here before manifesting it above.
Apart from the oblation, there was a sin offering at Pentecost. We need this as long as there is leaven in the offering.
With Pentecost, the harvest is not yet complete, v 22. This dispensation will not be the means of gathering all that there will be of souls that are saved. There will be good grain left in the field of the world for the poor (the Jew) and the stranger (the Gentile), beyond the great harvest of the church. The “corners of the fields” will not be harvested; there will still be ears to glean.
The seventh month is the memorial of the jubilee, the gathering of Israel (v 23-25), then the day of atonement will take place, the affliction and repentance of the people (v 26-32); and finally the feast of tabernacles, joy with the presence of Christ in the midst of Israel.