CHAPTER VII

THE WAY OF LIFE THROUGH THE LAW

The law refreshes the soul (Psa.19:7)

To set forth the relationship in the kingdom of God between Israel and God, and to prophesy in types of the work of Christ-this was the twofold sense of the Jewish temple service of God. The one is symbolic, the other its typical meaning.

A symbol is a visible cover of something invisible, a material garment of a higher truth, an impression and expression of something spiritual and super-sensual.

A type is a prophetic symbol, a person, thing, institution, or event which refers to Christ and His redeeming work, " a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb. 10:1;9:17; Col.2:16, 17), a setting forth in advance of the "heavenly things" (Heb.9:23).

Thus the symbol is concerned with its own time, is confined to the Old Testament, and relates to Israel; the type speaks of Christ, points to the future, and is Messianic prophecy. The symbol remains in the Law; the type looks on to grace and is a fragment of the gospel in the old covenant, a fragment of the New Testament in the midst of the Old.

The right and duty to interpret the type follows from the nature of the Old Testament as being in itself a Divine revelation in preparation for salvation, as well as from the general organic historical unity of Holy Scripture (comp. pp. 134-140; 145-l47) Furthermore it is established above all by the Lord Jesus Himself (John 3:14;6:32,33), and also especially, by Paul(I Cor.5:7,8;10:4,11;Rom.5:12-19), and in the epistle to the Hebrews(esp.chs.5-10).

In this manner the Old Testament Divine service reveals a double feature:

A. symbolically: The Old Testament fellowship with God;

B. typically: The New Testament fellowship with God;

and as to the latter:

(a) by the sacrifices-the New Testament ground of salvation;

(b) by the Tabernacle-the New Testament conception of the world from the aspect of salvation;

the New Testament Mediator of salvation;

the New Testament fellowship of salvation.

Thus it carries out its task by the fulfilment of four groups of typical appointments:

(I) The place of the service of God: the All-holy, the Holy and the forecourt. In succession, the Old Testament had three places of Divine service; the tabernacle, the temple of Solomon the temple of Zerubbabel (extended by Herod).

(2) The persons in the service of God: High priest, priests, and Levites, with three categories of the last, Kohathites, Gershonites, Merarites (Num. 4).

(3) The activities in the service of God: offerings (with and without blood); precepts regarding purification (as at birth, death, and leprosy); religious practices (as circumcision, vows, fasts).

(4) The seasons of the service of God: sabbaths, seven chief festivals, sabbatical year, jubilee year.

A-THE OLD TESTAMENT FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

Through this four-fold bond the Lord united Himself with His people. The moral ordinances had showed the distance which existed between the Holy One and the sinner, but the chief object of the ceremonial service of God was fellowship. In the sacrifices there was indeed an annual "remembrance of sin" (Heb.10:3)-and so far they stood on the same level as the moral laws; but nevertheless their chief and strict meaning was a certain forgiveness of sins (Lev.4:20;5:10-see p. 133) and, as a consequence of this, a corresponding intercourse with the Most High. Therefore also the priests were called "those drawing near" (Lev. 10:3); and the place of the service of God was called the "tent of coming together," that is, the "tent in which God and Israel came together" (Exod.33:7;40:34), not merely "tent of assembly." Therefore the cover of the ark of the covenant was the centre and the most holy vessel of the whole worship. "In that spot will I come together with thee and will speak with thee-from the propitiatory, between the two cherubim on the ark of the testimony" (Exod.25:22).

Thus the foundation idea of the Mosaic sacrificial service is not only propitiation but reconciliation, not merely compensation through legal righteousness, but relative resumption of fellowship and intercourse through redeeming love. But the Mosaic sacrifice made this reconciliation possible through a "covering up" of sin. Wherever in our Bibles the word "atonement" stands, in the Hebrew the verb "kaphar" is used (the same word as "cover" [Eng. "pitch"] in Gen.6:14). From the same verb comes also "kapporeth," literally a "covering article" for sins, i.e. a propitiatory cover [the lid of the ark]. The system of sacrifices could not indeed take away sins, for "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4, 9,11);-the sacrifice of Christ alone could effect that (Heb. 9:26)-but, looking forward to Golgotha, to cover those sins which occurred through weakness, and thus as it were to permit them to fade from the sight of the Lord, this was the office and, because of its relation to the cross, the strength of the system of sacrifices.

For conscious, wilful sins carried out with purpose and reflection, "with uplifted hand"-the old covenant had only stoning (Num.15:30,lit.; Lev.24:10-23). The Sinaitic covenant must here be viewed in its singularity. Thus the Mosaic sacrifice could not mediate a complete forgiveness of sins, not even in its relation to the sacrifice of Christ. Always it was merely an outward purifying, a setting aside of the offences against the statutes of the Old Testament covenant committed through weakness and "oversight" (Num.15:22-29), and thus primarily a foreshadowing of the true forgiveness.

So, then, before Golgotha mankind as a whole possessed only the "indulgence" of God (Rom.3:25, Gk.paresis); but Israel, on the eround of its sacrifices, had a certain forgiveness of s~ns (Gk. aphesis; Psa.32:1), and a relatively limited fellowship with God. Therefore even in the Old Testament the prophets and psalmists exulted (Psa.32:11;33:1;68:4) over the blessings and life-giving effects of the Law. For them the Law was not only exposure of guilt and a leading on to despair (comp. Rom. 7), but "joy of heart" (Psa.19:8), "delight" (Psa.119:47;36:9), "bliss"(Psa.32:1).

"Knowledge of sin," says Paul (Rom.3:20):

Of "crowning with grace" speaks David (Psa.103:4).

"The letter kills," says the apostle (II Cor.3:6):

"The law is refreshing" [quickening], says the psalmist (Psa.19:8).

"Miserable man!" is read in the epistle to the Romans (Rom.7:24):

"Blessed is the man," says the Psalter (Psa.1:1;32:1).

Of the "curse," the one-time Pharisee speaks (Gal.3:13): "The Lord bless thee," says the high priest (Num.6:24).

Yet both speak of the same Law! And yet both are right! For the Law is as the needle of the magnet with its two poles: a pointer to Christ as the only goal, Iying outside of itself, and yet at the same time in itself a unity of two opposites: in its requirements for conduct a loving holiness, in its service of God a holy love; in its moral laws distance, in its ceremonial laws fellowship; in its rules for conduct it binds, in its priestly ordinances it sets free; there authority, here redemption; there uncovering, here covering up; there the propitiation, here the reconciliation. In brief: the moral laws are judgment hall and royal palace; the ceremonial laws are a temple.

And yet both belong together as do the poles of a magnet. All spiritual life, even in the New Covenant, is marked by polarity. For there is only one Law of Israel (Jas.2:10), with only one Mediator, Moses, and only one goal, Christ.

But He brings the fulfilment of both: as regards the moral laws, "grace," the forgiveness of sins; as regards the ceremonial laws, truth," the substance instead of the shadow (Col.2:17; Heb.10:1). Thus is "the law given through Moses, but the grace and the truth is come to pass through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

All this shows that it would be completely false to conceive of the Old Testament as only a surmounted first step to the New. Even the Old Testament saints had a mighty possession of faith which the Old Testament bore immediately in itself. "The Holy Spirit was the hidden soul of the Law" (see I Pet. 1:11; Heb.3:7; Exod.31:3). Only because of this could the psalter of the Old Testament congregation become the hymn book of the original New Testament communities (I Cor.14:15, 26; Eph.5:19; Col.3:16). Thus the Old Testament is twofold viewed from the goal, it is subordinate to the New, and yet, as regards itself, it is independent. The Old Testament without the New is " an edifice without a pinnacle; " the New without the Old is "a house standing in the air."

So the Old Testament retains its right and the New its privilege. The New is veiled in the Old, but already well contained there: the Old is unveiled in the New and at the same time gloriously expanded. "In the Old the New is concealed, in the New the Old is revealed" (Augustine). "The Old Testament is the bud, in which all the splendour is already present, but shut up; the New Testament is the full flower, which has burst forth, which displays its glory and allows its fragrance to be enjoyed. The Old and the New Testaments are one, and yet each is distinct."

B-NEW TESTAMENT SALVATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

The decisive fundamental assertion of the Old Testament is: "The Lord thy God is one God." In contrast to the polytheistic religions of the ancient Orient, especially Egypt and Mesopotamna, and the similar polytheistic religions of classical antiquity, especially Greece and Rome, this knowledge shone forth ever clearer in the circle of light of God's Old Testament revelation. At the same time in this realm the finiteness and sinfulness of fallen human nature was regarded with the utmost ser~ousness. God is the eternal and we are the temporal. He is the Holy and we are the sinners. He is the Living One and we have fallen under death. If nevertheless there is to take place a union between Him and us, then He must, entirely from Himself, create this union through introducing something from eternity in some place in the world of space and time.

This came to pass in the establishing of the Old Testament covenant. Henceforth there is a point of union at which the Deity "comes together" with mankind (Exod. 25:22), a moral centre of world affairs, which first gives to all history living continuity and goal, a point of contact between time and eternity at which the sinner enters the presence of the Holy One. But if the sinner is not to be destroyed in that presence, this point must above all contain in itself a double element, a negation and an affirmation, a breaking down of the old and an introduction of the new, namely, clearance from sin and sanctification, forgiveness and new lordship, reconciliation and leading, or, in Old Testament language, covering and instruction, kapporeth and thora, propitiatory and tables of the Law. Therefore these two were most essentially connected with the ark of the covenant, that symbolic central vessel of Old Testament Divine service (Exod.25:17-22; Heb.9:4).

"This centre which world affairs thus acquired was a movable point, which moved onward with the progress of history. It wandered with Israel through the desert so long as they were a nomadic people. After Israel became settled, it established itself in the temple. But later, in place of the temple of stone, which was ordained to destruction, there came the 'spiritual house,' the church, which is built of 'living stones' (I Pet.2:5). Thus does the living centre, the moral centre of the world, pass through history. Christ remains with His church to the end of the world."

It thereby becomes clear that this entire development is one single great sequence, from beginning to end, one single all pervading divine work of reconciliation. The revelation of Christ is the completion of that which commenced with the Abrahamic covenant. Therefore Jesus is also called " the Christ;" that means, the One of whom the Old Testament prophesied, whom Israel awaited, the God-given "Anointed" One (Psa.2:2; I Sam.2:10; Dan.9:25), already described under this name by the prophets of the Old covenant. His title of Christ expresses His indivisible oneness with the revelation of God in the Old Testament.

From this historical oneness connecting the millenniums it follows that even in the Old Testament time God was able to give a certain advance presentation of the coming salvation, certain prophecies in act and fact, in offices and institutions, in historical leadings and individual happenings, which had Christ and His redeeming work as their end. Therefore the Lord and His apostles many times acknowledged in the Old Testament such a typical prophetic meaning which, while maintaining the reference to history of the time of the prophecy, was nevertheless, viewed from the goal, the actual, true meaning (Col. 2:17; Heb.10:1). Thus the brazen serpent is a type of the cross (John 3:14), the prophet Jonah of the resurrection (Matt.12:40), the manna in the desert of Christ as the bread of life (John 6:31-35). Above all it is the sacrificial and priestly arrangements of the Old Testament which are here to be noted In them prior to Christ, the work of Christ was set forth in symbols. They were likenesses of Him as the original; they were types of Him as the fulfilment (Heb.8:5;9:23-25).

Yet still more. In the Old Testament sacrifices, the work of Christ was already really effective even in their time. They were typical acts with actual saving effect, not only advance representations, but the creation of a certain fellowship with the Holy One, not only symbol but sacrament (Lev.4:31).

Nevertheless in this connexion none of these priestly acts had value in itself (Heb.10:4). They received all their virtue only from the one sacrifice of Golgotha. They were powerless and yet effectual, poor and yet making many rich, impotent and yet dispensing blessing, as it were bills of exchange of a national bank, which in themselves are only paper, and yet-in view of the day of their redemption-even before their due date of cayment possess value as cash. Then Jesus Christ, by His sacriEcial death on the cross, has met all those Old Testament "bills of exchange" to their full value.

I. THE MOSAIC SACRIFICE

The supreme act of the temple service of God in Israel is the sacrifice. Its root idea consists in four chief requirements

(I) The offering being without blemish points to the holiness of the Lord Jesus: His freedom from inherited sin through His miraculous birth and His freedom from all actual sins through His holy walk (I Pet.1:19).

(2) The offering becoming one with the offerer through the laying on of hands, points to the acceptance of guilt by the Lord Jesus. In the reality, when Christ, the sinless, submitted Himself to "the baptism of repentance unto the forgiveness of sins" (Mark l:4) He fulfilled the typical declaration of readiness to accept the place of the sinner, to become one with him, and to bear the sins of mankind (Matt.3:14,15), a typical declaration of readiness which He then carried out historically on the cross (I Pet.2:24).

(3) The enduring of punishment Christ suffered on Golgotha and thus the killing of the sacrifice became a prophecy of the cross(Heb.9:13,14). "Without shedding of blood no forgiveness takes place"(Heb.9:22).

Thus these first three requirements of the sacrifice refer to the work of Christ on earth, to Christ for us, Who in the days of His flesh completed the acquiring of salvation (Heb. 5:1-9).

But what is acquired must be appropriated, and this comes to pass only through faith and the thereby resulting organic oneness of the debtor with the surety (John 6:53). Therefore must Christ for us be also Christ in us, and to His priesthood on earth His heavenly priesthood must be joined. Now this organic oneness was foreshadowed with exactness by

(4)The sacrificial repast. And so Christ said: " If you eat not the flesh of the Son of man and drink not His blood, then you have no life in you" (John 6:53-57)- Hence the continuance of the humanity of Christ in His bodily resurrection; hence the sending of His Spirit for the purpose of this oneness with His redeemed; hence the necessity of the new birth of the individual and the organic fellowship between the "head" and the "members."

Thus the Mosaic sacrifice embraces the whole work of Christ; from birth to baptism, from baptism to the cross, and beyond the cross, on to resurrection and the sending of the Spirit, indeed to His eternal high priesthood after the manner of Melchizedek.

II. THE TABERNACLE

Israel had in succession three chief places of Divine service: the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness and in Shiloh (I Sam.1:3; 1500-l000B.C.); the temple of Solomon on Moriah (I Kings 6:1; 1000-586); the temple of Zerubbabel after the return from captivity (Ezra 3:8), completed by Herod (John 2:20; (536) 52IB.C. to A.D. 70). In essentials all three went back to the same plan(Exod. 25-27 and 30), and had the same meaning in the plan of salvation. The duty of the Tabernacle was, first of all, to be

(I) an Image of the Universe, and this from the point of view of the kingdom of God.

Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish contemporary of Jesus, had already interpreted the Tabernacle as being a type of the universe, and so did Josephus.

This application becomes specially clear at the entrance of the high priest into the All-holiest on the great Day of Atonement in conjunction with its New Testament fulfilment in Christ (Lev. 16; Heb.9:23,24).

The vessels of the Tabernacle were copies of the things in the heavens (Heb.9:23). But after Golgotha Christ did 'not enter into a sanctuary set up by human hands, which is only a copy of the true sanctuary, but into the heaven itself, in order now, unto our salvation, to appear before the face of God." But this implies that the earthly sanctuary is a copy of the heavenly; and as on the Day of Atonement the Aaronic high priest, with the blood from the altar of burnt offering in the forecourt, passed through the holy place into the All-holiest (Lev.16:l1-14), so did Christ, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, with His own blood 1 (Heb.9:12) from the "brazen altar" of Golgotha, pass from the earth "right through the heavens" (Heb.4:14) in order then in the "All-holiest" of the universe "above al1 heavens" (Heb.7:26; Eph.4:10), to appear before "the throne of grace' of God (Heb.4:16).

1 i.e. by the virtue of His sacrifice of Himself, not with His own material blood. [Trans.]

Thus the forecourt is the earth, where Golgotha was; the holy place is the heaven; and the All-holiest is the throne of God.

On earth God will do a double work: the justifying and sanctifying of the redeemed. Therefore there stood in the forecourt two vessels; the altar of burnt offering and the laver of purification (comp. Eph.5:25,26).

In heaven is the life and the light and the worship of the Eternal in the midst of heavenly spirits. To these things bear witness the shewbread table (bread of life; comp. John 6:48), and the lamp, as well as the altar of incense (comp. Psa. 141:2; Rev 8:3), with the surrounding figures of the cherubim on the cover of the ark and the veil (Ex. 26:1).

But "above all heavens" is the throne of God itself. There is the Law which rules the universe, even as the tables of the Law were present in the All-holiest (I Kings 8: 9). There is also the grace which forgives sins and which makes the throne of sovereignty of God to be a "throne of grace" (Exod.25:17; Heb. 4:16)., and there, above all, is the light of the glory of God which, like the cloud of the Shekinah, irradiates all other things (Exod.40:34,35; I Tim.6:16).

But all His plans of love God carries out in Christ, and therefore at the same time the Tabernacle becomes a pointer to Christ, that is

(2) a Type of the World Redeemer.

In fact, in Christ, Who as the incarnate Word "tabernacled" among us (John 1:14) (Gk. eskenosen, = tented, from skene, a tent), all its types are fulfilled, (so already Cocceius (Professor of Reformed Theology in Leiden, died 1669)).

Christ is

our justification-the altar of burnt offering (I Cor.1:30);

our sanctification-the laver of purifying (I Cor.1:30) He has set us in

"heavenly places" (Eph.1:3; 2:6)-the holy place as a copy of the heaven (Heb.9:24); and there, in our heavenly position,

our light-the seven-branched lamp (John 8:12);

our bread-the shewbread (John 6:48), and

our supplicating High priest after the order of Melchizedek-the golden incense altar(Heb.7:26; Psa.141:2, comp. John 17). But finally He will conduct us into

His presence (the All-holiest), and there, as the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 5: 6-14)-as the fulfilment of the ark of the covenant with the blood besprinkled propitiatory (Rom. 3: 25)-He will receive from His own people eternal worship.

But in Him we ourselves also shall be conformed to His likeness (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2), and so the Tabernacle is at the same time

(3) a Type of the Way and Fellowship of Salvation.

Those believing

viewed beneath-are justified from the darkness and

power of sin:

the altar of burnt offering;

viewed within-are sanctified through the washing with

His Word:

the laver of purification, Eph. 5:26;

viewed without-are shining as light-bearers of His

testimony:

the lampstand, Rev. 1:12; 2:5, comp. Zech. 4;

viewed above-they pray with the incense of worship:

the golden altar, Rev. 8:3; Psa.141:2;

viewed on all sides-are strengthened with the bread of life:

the shewbread, John 6: 48;

looking forward-they hasten so as to appear before His throne:

the ark of the covenant.

By all these things the Israelitish Divine service became a sublime prophecy of the goal. It is the most prophetic element in the Old Testament law and thus far is a connecting link between law and prophecy.

(4) The Superiority of the New Testament Order.

But in all this the fulfilment far surpasses all types (Matt. 13:16,17).

(a) In the Old Covenant a portion passed for the whole:

one-twelfth for twelve twelfths-as with the priestly tribe of Levi (Num. 8:16-19, in place of Exod. 19:6);

one-tenth for ten tenths-by the tribute of the tithe (Lev. 27: 30);

one-seventh for seven sevenths-by the sanctifying of the sabbath(Exod. 20: 8-11).

But in the New Covenant the whole is found:

not one priestly tribe, but a priestly people (I Pet. 2:5,9);

not a tenth, but all (Col. 3:17);

not a day, but the week (Col. 2:16,17; Rom. 14:5,7,8);

and with the week the year, and with the year the life, and

with time eternity.

(b) In the Old Covenant only the "shadow" was present; but in

the New the "body" is come (Col. 2:17; Heb.10:1). "The

grace and truth [which means the essential, the reality] came

through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

(c) In the Old Covenant there were concessions "on account of hardness of heart" (Matt. l9: 8), especially avenging of homicide (Josh. 20), polygamy (Gen. 30; Deut.21;15; I Kings. 1l:1-3), slavery (Lev. 25: 44-46), and lawsuits (Exod. 21:24; Matt. 5:38-40).

In the New Covenant there stands the majestic "But I say unto you" (Matt. 5:22,38,34,39).

(5) In the Old Covenant there were many sacrifices; the official number annually no less than 1,273(according to Num. 28 and 29), and thus together from Moses to Christ nearly two millions, apart from the unnumbered millions upon millions of private offerings.(Lev. 1; 3; 4; 5).

But of Christ it is said: "by one offering He has perfected for ever those being sanctified" (Heb.10:14).

Thus does Christ fulfil and surpass all which the Law includes The Law was hedge, bridle, rule, barrier, and mirror; but the cross of Christ is its seal, eternally valid (Dan. 9: 24). " Therefore let thy conceit and feelings depart, and regard this Scripture as the highest, noblest, All-holiest sanctuary, as the very richest mine of wealth, which can never be sufficiently fathomed, so that thou mayest find the Divine wisdom, which God here sets forth so simply that He may quench all pride. Here thou wilt find the swaddling clothes and the manger wherein Christ lies, to which the angel directed the shepherds. Poor and mean swaddling clothes they are, but precious is the treasure that lies therein, even Christ" (Luther, Pref. to the Old Testament, 1523).

Previous Chapter/Table of Contents/Next Chapter