As we study the sanctuary service in our Sabbath School lesson and that of the greatest sacrifice ever made for mankind, the following article is very timely for our consideration. We also invite you to join us as we delve into the richness of this topic already underway by clicking on the Sabbath School Lesson link shown on the right. We are discovering lessons and blessings afresh every day. God bless you on life's journey. Let us "press together" in the Blessed Hope!
The Sacrifice of Separation
The Review and Herald - January 9, 1883
by Ellen G. White
The opinion is widely held, that the sacrifices and offerings of the Hebrews possess no significance for Christians, and can be of no interest to them. This opinion is without foundation. It is true that the ceremonies of the Mosaic law are not now to be observed; but, when rightly understood, they are seen to be all aglow with sacred and important truths. These rites, appointed by Jehovah himself, were like so many beacons to light up the path of God's ancient people, and to direct their minds to the great sacrifice to be offered for the sins of men. Viewed in the light of the cross, they contain most precious lessons for the people of God today.
The children of Israel were anciently commanded to make an offering for the entire congregation, to purify them from ceremonial defilement. For the sacrifice a red heifer was offered, representing the more perfect offering that should redeem from the pollution of sin.
This was an occasional sacrifice for the purification of all those who had necessarily or accidentally touched the dead. All who came in contact with death in any way were considered ceremonially unclean. Thus the minds of the Hebrews were forcibly impressed with the fact that death came in consequence of sin, and therefore is a representative of sin. The one heifer, the one ark, the one brazen serpent, impressively point to the one great offering, the sacrifice of Christ.
The ONE heifer, the ONE ark,
the ONE brazen serpent, impressively point to the ONE great offering, the sacrifice of Christ.
This heifer was to be red without spot, which was a symbol of blood. It must be without blemish, and one that had never borne a yoke. Here again Christ was typified. The Son of God came voluntarily to accomplish the work of atonement. There was no obligatory yoke upon him, for he was independent and above all law. The angels, as God's intelligent messengers, were under the yoke of obligation; no personal sacrifice of theirs could atone for the guilt of fallen man. Christ alone was free from the claims of the law to undertake the redemption of the sinful race. He had power to lay down his life and to take it up again. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God."
Yet this glorious being loved the poor sinner, and took upon himself the form of a servant, that he might suffer and die in man's behalf. Jesus might have remained at his Father's right hand, wearing his kingly crown and royal robes. But he chose to exchange all the riches, honor, and glory of Heaven for the poverty of humanity, and his station of high command for the horrors of Gethsemane and the humiliation and agony of Calvary. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that, by his baptism of suffering and blood, he might purify and redeem a guilty world. "Lo, I come," was the joyful assent, "to do thy will O God!"
The sacrificial heifer was conducted without the camp, and slain in the most solemn manner. Thus Christ suffered without the gates of Jerusalem, for Calvary was outside the city walls. This was to show that Christ did not die for the Hebrews alone, but for all mankind. He proclaims to a fallen world that he has come to be their Redeemer, and urges them to accept the salvation which he offers.
The heifer having been slain, the priest, clothed in pure white garments, took the blood in his hands as it issued from the body of the victim, and cast it toward the temple seven times. Thus Christ in his own spotless righteousness, after shedding his precious blood, entered into the heavenly sanctuary to minister in the sinner's behalf. And there the crimson current is brought into the service of reconciling God to man. "And having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
The body of the heifer was burned to ashes, which signified a whole and ample sacrifice. The ashes were then gathered up by a person uncontaminated by contact with the dead, and laid up in a clean place without the camp. When the ceremony of cleansing was to be performed, these were placed in a vessel containing water from a running stream. This clean and pure person then took a cedar stick with scarlet cloth and a bunch of hyssop and sprinkled the contents of the vessel upon the tent and the persons therein. This ceremony was repeated several times in order to be thorough, and was done as a purification from sin.
The cleansing water sprinkling the unclean, symbolized the blood of Christ spilled to cleanse us from moral impurities. The repeated sprinklings illustrate the thoroughness of the work that must be accomplished for the repenting sinner. All that he has must be consecrated. Not only should his
own soul be washed clean and pure, but he should strive to have his family, his domestic arrangements, his property, and his entire belongings consecrated to God.
|... he should strive to have his family, his domestic arrangements, his property, and his entire belongings consecrated to God.
After the sprinkling with hyssop of the tent, over the door of those cleansed was written, I am not my own; Lord, I am thine. Thus should it be with those who profess to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. God is no less exacting now than he was in olden times. The psalmist, in his prayer, refers to this symbolic ceremony when he says, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The blood of Christ is efficacious, but needs continually to be applied. God wants his servants to make a consecration of themselves to his cause, and to use for his glory the means which he has intrusted to them. If any have become selfish, and are withholding from the Lord that which they should cheerfully give to his service, then they need the blood of sprinkling thoroughly applied, consecrating them and all their possessions to God.
Many who profess to be followers of Christ have not that earnest and unselfish devotion to his cause that he requires of them. They give their attention to temporal matters, and train their minds for business, in order to benefit themselves thereby. But God calls for them to come more closely into union with him, that he may mold and train them for his work. A solemn statement was made to ancient Israel that the man who should remain unclean, and refuse to purify himself, should be cut off from among the congregation. This has a special meaning for us. If it was necessary in ancient times for the unclean to be purified by the blood of sprinkling, how essential for those living in the perils of the last days, exposed to the fierce temptations of Satan, to have the blood of Christ applied to their hearts daily. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Christ designed that his believing children should be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. The holy life and Christian example of one good man in a community, sheds a light that is reflected upon others. How great, then, should be the influence of a company of believers all walking in the commandments of God. The preaching of the word is ordained of God, to arouse and convict sinners. And when the living preacher exemplifies in his own life the self-denial and sacrifice of Christ, when his conversation and acts are in harmony with the Divine Pattern, then he will exert a powerful influence upon those who listen to his voice. But all cannot be teachers of the word in the pulpit. The individual duties of different persons vary, but there is work for all to do. All can aid the cause by giving unselfishly of their means to help the various branches of the work, to furnish means for the publication of tracts and periodicals to scatter among the people, and disseminate the truth. Those who give money to promote the cause, are bearing a part of the burden of the work; they are co-laborers with Christ, for God has furnished men with means, in trust, that they may use it for wise and holy purposes. This is among the instrumentalities which Heaven has ordained for doing good, one of the talents which men are to put out to the exchangers.
We should ever bear in mind that we are the stewards of God, and that he holds us accountable for the temporal talents he has lent us to use wisely for his glory. Shall we not closely search our hearts, and investigate the motives which prompt us to action?
The danger of many is in loving their possessions. Their ears are not quick to hear the Master's call in the person of his saints and in the wants of his cause. They do not gladly invest their treasure in the enterprise of Christianity. If we desire a treasure in Heaven, we should be securing it while we have the opportunity. Those who feel safer to apply their means toward the greater accumulation of earthly riches, and invest sparingly in the cause of God, should feel satisfied to receive heavenly treasure according to their investment in heavenly stock.
|If we desire a treasure in Heaven, we should be securing it while we have the opportunity.
Many desire to see the cause of God progress, but make little personal effort toward that end. If these could see their true position, and realize their accountability to God, they would become more earnest co-laborers with Jesus. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." There can be no divided interest in this, for the whole heart and mind and strength is all that composes the man.
Says the apostle, "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." When the poor, condemned sinner was lying under the curse of the Father's law, Jesus so loved him that he gave himself for the transgressor. He redeemed him by the virtue of his blood. We cannot estimate the precious ransom paid to redeem fallen man. The heart's best and holiest affections should be given in return for such wondrous love. The temporal gifts which we enjoy are merely lent us to aid in the advancement of the kingdom of God.
I speak of the tithing system, yet how meager it looks to my mind! How small the estimate! How vain the endeavor to measure, with mathematical rules, time, money, and love against a love and a sacrifice that is measureless and incomputable! Tithes for Christ! Oh, meager pittance, shameful recompense for that which cost so much! From the cross of Calvary, Christ calls for an unconditional surrender.
He promised the young ruler that if he sold all that he had and gave it to the poor, and lifted his cross and followed him, he should have treasure in Heaven. All we have should be consecrated to God. The Majesty of Heaven came to the world to die a sacrifice for the sins of man. How cold and selfish is the human heart that can turn away from that incomparable love, and set itself upon the vain things of this world!
My brother, my sister, when selfishness is striving for the victory over you, bear in mind One who left the glorious courts of Heaven, and laid aside the robes of royalty for your sakes, becoming poor that through his poverty you might be made rich. Will you, then, disregard this great love and boundless mercy, by refusing to be inconvenienced, and to deny yourselves for his dear sake? Will you cling to the treasures of this life, and neglect to
aid in carrying forward the great work of truth? I adjure you to arouse from your lethargy, leave the vain idolatry of worldly things, and be in earnest to secure a title to the immortal inheritance. Work while it is day. Do not imperil your souls by forfeiting present opportunities. Do not make your eternal interests of secondary importance. Do not put the world before religion, and toil day after day to acquire its riches, while the peril of eternal bankruptcy threatens you. Every day is bringing you nearer to the final reckoning. Be ready to yield up the talents lent you, with the increase gained by their wise use.
|Do not put the world before religion ...
You cannot afford to sacrifice Heaven, or jeopardize your safety. Do not let the deceitfulness of riches lead you to neglect the immortal treasure. Satan is a wily foe, and he is ever on your track, striving to ensnare you, and compass your ruin. We are in the waiting time; let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, waiting for the Lord when he returneth from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh you may open to him immediately.
Watch the first dimming of your light, the first neglect of prayer, the first symptom of spiritual slumber. He that endureth unto the end shall be saved. It is by the constant exercise of faith and love that believers are made to shine as lights in the world. You are making but poor preparation for the Master's coming, if, when he appears, you must present to him talents that you have buried in the earth,--talents neglected, abused, misused, a divided love, serving mammon while professedly serving God.
You profess to be servants of Christ. How necessary that you obey your Master's directions, and be faithful to your duties. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." This love is without a parallel, giving to men the relationship of sons to God.
Therefore the Father expects obedience from his children, therefore he requires a right disposition of the property he has placed in their hands. It is not their own to use for their personal gratification, but it is the capital of the Lord, for which they are responsible to him.
|You cannot afford to sacrifice heaven ...
Children of the Lord, how precious is the promise! How full the atonement of the Saviour for our guilt! The Redeemer, with a heart of unalterable love, still sheds his sacred blood in the sinner's behalf. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead eloquently for fallen man, whose redemption is purchased at so great a cost. Oh, matchless condescension! Time nor events can lessen the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice. As the fragrant cloud of incense rose acceptably to Heaven, and Aaron sprinkled the blood upon the mercy-seat of ancient Israel, and cleansed the people from guilt, so the merits of the slain Lamb are accepted by God today as a purifier from the defilement of sin.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." There are stern battles for you to fight. You should put on the whole armor of righteousness, and prove yourselves strong and true in your Redeemer's service. God wants no idlers in his field, but co-laborers with Christ, sentinels vigilant at their posts, valiant soldiers of the cross, ready to do and dare all things for the cause in which they are enlisted.
It is not wealth or intellect that gives happiness; it is true moral worth, and a sense of duty performed. You may have the overcomer's reward, and stand before the throne of Christ to sing his praises in the day when he assembles his saints; but your robes must be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb, charity must cover you as a garment, and you be found spotless and without blemish.
Says John the Revelator: "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
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