The Sprinkling of the Blood of the Sacrifice
“And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”— Leviticus iv. 6, 7.
I HAVE aforetime preached to you upon the types of our Lord’s sacrifice: the subject is as large as it is important. We began with the laying of the hands upon the offering, and we went on to the all-important matter of the slaying of the victim. Now we come to the use which was made of the blood of the sacrifice after it had been slain. In thinking upon this subject, I seem to hear a voice saying to me, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” This is the central mystery of our religion, it becomes us to be reverent in heart as we approach it. The doctrine of substitution is the heart of the whole matter, our whole heart needs to be aroused while we speak upon it. The Son of God himself, assuming human nature, and in that nature bleeding and dying in our place and stead, is the revelation of revelation, the wonder of wonders, the glory of the glorious God. Solemnity and awe may well fill us while we meditate on such a theme. Oh, that the Spirit of God may rest upon us now! May his melting power be over this vast assembly! May the speaker feel it, may the hearers experience it, so that we may with one consent, in spirit and in truth, look to him who, by the Eternal Spirit, offered up himself without spot unto God!
The sacrifices under the law were varied according to the uppermost thoughts in the offerers’ minds and their peculiar conditions before God. A burnt-offering, a peace-offering, or a sin-offering might be brought, according as men wished to give unto the Lord, to have fellowship with him, or to confess their sin to him. There was a sacrifice specially arranged for the anointed priest, another for all the congregation, another for a ruler, and yet another for one of the common people: in truth the typical sacrifices all pointed to the one great sacrifice, but they indicated various marks and characteristics of the undivided Lamb of God. The victims varied from a bullock or a lamb down to a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. We take different views of the sacrifice of Christ according to our capacity to see it; and yet all these views may be quite in accordance with truth, for the atonement is many-sided, and operates in many directions. The Levitical types represent the different views which believing minds take of our Lord Jesus Christ: they set forth but one Christ, but that one Christ from various stand-points. The mercy is that the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus is suitable to you, and equally suitable to me, and to all that come to him by faith. The rich, the poor, the brave, the timid, the amiable, and the immoral, all find in Jesus that which fits the individual case. You may be a person of great mind and profound thought, but you shall find in Jesus all that your high intelligence can desire. I may be a person of slender education and of narrow powers of thought, but I shall find the Lord Jesus humbling himself to my limited capacity. The manna is said by the rabbis to have pleased every man’s taste, and even so the Christ of God is every man’s Christ, so that no man who comes to him shall be disappointed, but each shall find his need supplied. Each man shall find his case perfectly met by the Saviour’s atonement, as much so as if Jesus were prepared for that man only, as if that man were the only sinner under heaven, or Jesus a Redeemer sent to him alone of all the family of man. Oh, the depth of the wisdom and of the grace of God in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Note particularly, with great interest, that there were sacrifices provided for sins of ignorance under the law: therefore we safely conclude that a sin of ignorance is a sin. There is not that intensity of evil in a sin of ignorance which is to be seen in wilful, deliberate transgression; but still there is sin in it: for no law can allow ignorance to be an excuse for trespass, since it is the duty of the subject to know the law. Even if I do that which is wrong with a sincere wish to do right, still my wrong act has a measure of sin in it. No amount of sincerity can turn injustice into righteousness, or transform falsehood into truth. You can illustrate this by the stern facts of nature. Certain inventors have thought that they could fly, and they have in perfectly honest faith leaped from a lofty crag; but their honest belief has not saved them from the result of violating the law of gravitation: they have fallen to the ground, and have been dashed in pieces just as surely and terribly as if they had felt no real belief in their powers of flight. If a man partakes of a deadly poison believing it to be a health-giving medicine, his sincerity will not hinder the natural course of nature: he will die in his error. It is precisely so in the moral and spiritual world. Sins committed in ignorance must be still sins in the sight of the Lord, or else no expiation would have been provided for them. Without shedding of blood there is no remission even for sins of ignorance. Paul persecuted the saints ignorantly, but he thereby incurred sins which required to be washed away; so Ananias told him, and so he felt, for he called himself the chief of sinners because he persecuted the church of God. When the people sinned through ignorance, and the thing was hid from the eyes of the assembly, they were to bring an offering as soon as the sin was known. If you have transgressed ignorantly, my brother, the time may come when you will find out that you were sinning, and it will then rejoice your heart to find that the Lord Jesus has made atonement for your sins before you knew them to be sins.
I am greatly rejoiced to think there should be such a sacrifice provided, since it may yet turn out that the larger number of our sins are sins of which we have not been aware, because the hardness of our heart has prevented our discovering our error. You may have sinned and have no conscience of that sin at this present, ay, and you never may have a conscience of that particular offence, in this world, yet will it be sin all the same. Many good men have lived in an evil habit, and remained in it unto death, and yet have not known it to be evil. Now, if the precious blood of Jesus only put away the sin which we perceived in detail, its efficacy would be limited by the enlightenment of our conscience, and therefore some grievous sin might be overlooked and prove our ruin: but inasmuch as this blood puts away all sins, it removes those which we do not discover as well as those over which we mourn. “Cleanse thou me from secret faults” is a prayer to which the expiation of Christ is a full answer. The atonement acts according to God’s sight of sin and not according to our sight of it, for we only see it in part, but God sees it all and blots it all out. When we discover our iniquity it is ours to weep over it with true and deep repentance; but if there be some sins which in detail we have not discerned, and consequently have not by a specific act of repentance confessed them separately, yet, for all that, the Lord doth put away our sin; for it is written, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Those unknown sufferings of Christ which the Greek Liturgy mentions so wisely, have put away from us those unknown sins which we cannot confess in detail because we have not yet perceived them. Blessed be God for a sacrifice which cleanses away for ever not only our glaring faults, but those offences which the most minute self-examination has not yet uncovered.
After the blood had been spilt by the killing of the sacrifice, and thus atonement had been made, three several acts were to be performed by the priest: we have them described in our text; and if you will kindly look you will see that very much the same words follow in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses, so also in the twenty-fifth verse, and in the thirty-fourth verse, where with somewhat less of detail much the same act is set forth. “And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” All this is symbolic of the work of the Lord Jesus and the manifold effects of his blood.
There were three things: first, “the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary”: this represents the atoning sacrifice in its reference to God. Next, “The priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord:” this sets forth the influence of the blood upon the offering of intercessory prayer. Thirdly, we read, “he shall pour all (the rest) of the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering”: this displays the influence of the blood of Christ on all our service for the Lord. Oh, for the Spirit’s power to us to show the things of Christ!
I. We begin with THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST IN ITS RELATION TO THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL.
In the type before us the prominent thing before God is the blood of atonement. No mention is made of a meat-offering, or a drink-offering, or even, of sweet spices upon the golden altar; the one conspicuous object is blood. This was sprinkled before the Lord before the vail of the Most Holy place. I am well aware that some persons cry out, “The preacher continually talks about blood, and this morning from the first hymn to the last he has brought before us constant allusions to blood. We are horrified by it!” I wish you to be horrified; for, indeed, sin is a thing to shudder at, and the death of Jesus is not a matter to be treated lightly. It was God’s intent to awaken in man a great disgust of sin, by making him see that it could only be put away by suffering and death. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness almost everything was sanctified by blood. The purple drops fell even on the book, and all the people. The blood was to be seen everywhere. As soon as you entered the outer court you saw the great brazen altar; and at the base of it bowls of blood were constantly being poured out. When you passed the first vail and entered the holy place, if you saw a priest he was bespattered from head to foot with blood, his snow-white robes bringing the crimson spots most vividly before the eye. If you looked around, you saw the horns of the golden altar of incense smeared with blood, and the gorgeous vail which hid the innermost sanctuary was bedewed with a frequent sprinkling of the same. The holy tent was by no means a place for sentimentalists; its emblematic teachings dealt with terrible realities, in a boldly impressive manner; its ritual was not constructed to gratify the taste, but to impress the mind. It was not a place for dainty gentlemen, but for broken-hearted sinners. Everywhere the ignorant eye would see somewhat to displease; but the troubled conscience would read lessons of peace and pardon. Oh, that any words of mine could cause triflers with sin to be shocked at the abominable thing! I would have them filled with horror of that detestable thing which cannot be put away except by that which is infinitely more calculated to shock the instructed mind than rivers of the blood of bulls and of goats— I mean the sacrifice of God’s own Son, whose soul was made an offering for sin.
The blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled before the vail seven times, signifying this— first, that the atonement made by the blood of Jesus is perfect in its reference to God. All through the Scriptures, as you well know, seven is the number of perfection, and in this place it is doubtless used with that intent. The seven times is the same as once for all: it conveys the same meaning as when we read, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins,” and again, “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once.” It is a complete act. In this text we understand that the Lord Jesus offered unto the justice of God an absolutely complete and satisfactory atonement by his vicarious suffering and death for guilty men. There is no need of further offering for sin. “It is finished.” He hath by himself purged our sins. In old time, before the coming of our Lord, the vail hung darkly between the place of God’s glorious presence and his worshipping people: it was only lifted for a moment once a year, and then that one only of all living men might enter into the Holy of Holies for a brief space, the way into the Holiest not being yet made manifest; but still the blood was sprinkled towards the place where the glory of God was pleased to dwell; indicating that access to him could only be by the way of the blood. Albeit that modern thought will contradict me, I shall not cease to assert perpetually that the greatest result of the death of the Lord Jesus was God-ward. Not only does he reconcile us unto God by his death, and turn our enmity into love, but he has borne the chastisement of our peace, and thus magnified the law and made it honourable. God, the Judge of all, is enabled without the violation of his justice to pass by transgression, iniquity, and sin, The blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled before the Lord because the sin was before the Lord. David says— “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” and the prodigal cries, “I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” The sacrifice of Christ is so mainly a propitiation before God, so thoroughly a vindication of divine righteousness, that this one view of the atonement is sufficient for any man, even if he obtains no other; but let him beware of trusting to a faith which does not look to the great propitiation. This is the soul-saving view; the idea which pacifies conscience and wins the heart: we believe in Jesus as the propitiation for sin. The lights which stream from the cross are very varied; but as all the coloured rays are found in the white light of day, so all the varied teachings of Calvary meet in the fact that Jesus suffered for sin, the just for the unjust. Do not your hearts feel glad to think that the Lord Jesus Christ has offered a perfect atonement, covering all, removing every obstacle to the mercy of God, making a clearway for the Lord most justly to justify the guilty? No man need bring anything more, or anything of his own, wherewith to turn away the anger of God; but he may come just as he is, guilty and defiled, and plead this precious blood which has made effectual atonement for him. O my soul, endorse the doctrine, feel the sweet experiences that flow from it, and stand thou now in the presence of God without fear: for seven times has the blood spoken for thee unto God.
Note next, that not only is the atonement itself perfect, but that the presentation of that atonement is perfect, too. The sevenfold sprinkling was typical of Christ as a Priest presenting unto the Father himself as a sacrifice for sin. This has been fully done. Jesus has in due order carried the propitiation into the sanctuary, and appeared in the presence of God on our behalf. Here are the apostle’s own words, “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” It is not our presenting of the blood, but Christ’s presenting of the blood, which has made the atonement; even as it is not our sight of the blood, but Jehovah’s sight of it which causes us to escape; as it was written concerning the Passover, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Jesus at this moment sets his atonement within view of a righteous God, and therefore is the Judge of all the earth, able to look on the guilty with eyes of mercy. Let us rest perfectly satisfied that all we require to bring us near to God has been done for us, and we may now come boldly unto the throne of the heavenly grace.
“No longer far from God:but now
By precious blood made nigh,
Accepted in the well-beloved
Near to his heart we lie.”
We now pass on to a few thoughts about ourselves in relation to this type. This sevenfold sprinkling of the blood upon the vail meant that the way of our access to God is only by virtue of the precious blood of Christ Do you ever feel a vail hanging between you and God? In very truth, there is none; for Jesus has taken it away through his flesh. In the day when his blessed body was offered up, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, showing that there is nothing now to divide the believer from his God; but still, if you think there is such a separating vail, if you feel as if the Lord had hidden himself, if you are so despondent that you are afraid you never can draw near to the mercy-seat, then sprinkle the blood towards the throne of grace, cast it on the very vail which appears to conceal your God from you. Let your heart go towards God even if you cannot reach him, and let this blood go before you; for rest assured nothing can dissolve obstacles and furnish you with an open access to God save the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Rest assured that you are already come unto God if boldly, ay, even if timidly with trembling finger, you do but sprinkle the blood in the direction which your faith longs to take. If you cannot present the atonement of Christ yourself by the firm hand of an undaunted faith; yet, remember, Christ’s own hand has presented the propitiation long before, and therefore the work will not fail because of your feebleness. O that by a simple confidence in the Lord, your Redeemer, you may this day imitate the example of the priest under the law, for Jesus makes you a priest by the gospel. You may now look towards the Lord and plead that all-prevailing blood which makes us near who were once afar off. I have often admired that blessed gospel precept, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;” for suppose I cannot see, yet if I look I have the promise of being saved. If there should be a mist and a cloud between me and the brazen serpent, yet if I look that way I shall be healed. If I cannot clearly discern all the glories of my Lord and Saviour, yet if I look with the glance of trust he saveth me. Turn, then, your half-opened eyes, which only at one corner admit light, turn them I say, God-ward and Christ-ward, and know that by reason of the atoning blood you are saved. The blood-bespattered way is the only one which a sinner’s feet can traverse if he would come to God. It is easy, plain and open. See, the priest had the gospel at his fingers’ ends; at every motion of his hand he preached it, and the effect of such preaching remained wherever the drops found a resting-place.
I further think that the blood was sprinkled on the vail seven times to show that a deliberate contemplation of the death of Christ is greatly for our benefit. Whatever else you treat slightly, let the sacrifice of Calvary be seriously considered again and again; even unto seven times let it be meditated on! Read the story of our Lord’s death in the four Evangelists and ponder every detail till you are familiar with his griefs. I would have you know the story by heart, for nothing will do your heart so much good. Read over the twenty-second Psalm and the fifty-third of Isaiah every day if you are in any kind of trouble of heart about sin, and pray to God for enlightenment that you may see the exceeding greatness of his grace to us in Christ Jesus. Oh, that you may with all your heart believe in the Lamb of God! Angels desire to look into these things, therefore, I pray you, do not neglect so great salvation. Think lovingly of the atoning sacrifice; earnestly consider it a second time, do it a third time, do it a fourth time, do it a fifth time, do it a sixth time, do it a seventh time!
Remember, too, that this sets out how great our guilt has been, since the blood must be sprinkled seven times ere the work of atonement is fully seen by you. Our guilt has a sevenfold blackness about it, and there must be a sevenfold cleansing. If you plead the blood of Jesus once and you do not obtain peace thereby, plead it again; and if still the burden lies upon your heart, still go on pleading with the Lord the one prevailing argument that Jesus bled. If for the present you do not gain peace through the blood of the cross, do not conclude that your sin is too great for pardon, for that is not the fact, since “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” A fuller acquaintance with him who has made peace by his blood will calm the tempest of your mind. Christ is a great Saviour for great sinners, and his precious blood can remove the blackest spots of iniquity. See it sprinkled seven times for a seven times polluted sinner, and rest your soul on him though seven devils should have entered into you. God, who bids us forgive unto seventy times seven, sets no bound to his own forgiveness.
Do reflect that if your case seems to yourself to be very difficulty it is provided for by this sevenfold sprinkling of the blood. If you say, “My heart is so hard! I cannot make it feel”; or if you say, “I am so frivolous and foolish I seem to forget what once I knew”; then continue still to look to the blood of Jesus, and draw hope from it even to seven times. Do not go away from that, I charge you— where else can you go? The devil’s desire will be to keep you from thinking upon Christ; but do remember that thoughts about anything else will do you very little good. Your hope lies in thinking upon Jesus, not upon yourself. Masticate and digest such a text as this every morning— “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” Go to bed at night with this verse upon your tongue, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Or this, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” That dear man of God, Mr. Moody Stuart, somewhere tells us that he once talked with a woman who was in great trouble about her sins. She was a well-instructed person, and knew the Bible thoroughly, so that he was in a little difficulty what to say to her, as she was so accustomed to all-saving truth. At last he urged upon her very strongly that passage, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,” and he noticed that she seemed to find a quiet relief in a gentle flow of tears. He prayed with her, and when she rose from her knees she seemed much comforted. Meeting her the next day, and seeing her smiling face, and finding her full of rest in the Lord, he asked, “What was it wrought your deliverance?” “Oh,” she said, “it was that text, Jesus Christ came to save sinners.’” “Did you not know that before?” said Mr. Stuart. Yes, she knew the words before, but she found that in her heart of hearts she had believed that Jesus came to save saints, and not sinners. Do not many awakened persons abide in the same error? Well, I want you, poor troubled heart, ay, and you also who are of a joyful spirit, to keep on with this sevenfold presentation of the sacrifice of Christ unto God; and even if a vail should hang between you and the Lord, I beg you to continue to sprinkle the vail with blood until before the eyes of your faith the vail rends in twain, and you stand in the presence of your reconciled God, rejoicing in Christ Jesus.
II. Our second head is this,— THE BLOOD IN ITS INFLUENCE UPON PRAYER. “The priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord.” The priest in this case goes from the inside of the holy place towards the outer court; having dealt with the vail of the Holy of Holies, he turns round and finds close at his side the altar of incense made of gold, and surmounted with a golden crown; to this he goes deliberately, and places a portion of the blood upon each of its horns. Horns signify power, and the explanation of the symbol is that there is no power in intercessory prayer apart from the blood of expiation.
Remember, first, that the intercession of Christ himself is based upon his atonement. He is daily pleading before the throne of God, and his great argument is that he offered himself without spot unto God. It seems to me most clear and blessed that our Lord Jesus makes this the main plea with the Father on our behalf— “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” He has suffered in our stead, and every day he pleads these sufferings for us: his blood speaketh better things than that of Abel. He seeks no new plea, but always urges this old one— his blood shed for many for the remission of sins. “It pleased the Father to bruise him,” and now it pleases the Father to hear him. The bruised spices of his passion are an incense of sweet smell, and derive a double acceptance from the blood-smeared altar upon which they are presented.
And now take the type to yourselves. You and I are to offer incense upon this golden altar by our daily intercession for others, but our plea must always be the atoning blood of Jesus. I pray you, dear friends, to urge this much more than you have been accustomed to do in your prayers. We are to cry to God for sinners, and we are to cry to God for saints, but the sacrifice of Jesus must be our strength in petitioning. Intercession is one of the most excellent duties in which a Christian man can be engaged: it has about it the honour both of priesthood and kingship. The incense-altar ought to be continually smoking before the Lord God of Israel, not only in our public prayer-meetings, but in our private supplications. We should be continually pleading for our children, for our friends, for our neighbours, for those who are hopeful, and those who seem hopeless; but the great plea must always be, “By thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy cross and passion.” Offer sweet spices of love, and faith, and hope, and lay on the burning coals of strong desire, but on the horn of your altar smear the blood.
“Blood has a voice to pierce the skies,
‘Revenge’ the blood of Abel cries;
But the rich blood of Jesus slain
Speaks ‘peace’ as loud from every vein.”
Take care you never advance another plea, or if another let it be very subsidiary to this master reason. We may say, “O Lord, save men; because their immortal souls are precious; save them that they may escape from endless misery, and that they may display the power of thy grace; save them also that thy word may not return unto thee void, and that thy church may be built up by their means”; but we must never be content with these pleas; we must go on to plead the name of Jesus, for whatsoever we ask in that name we shall receive. He who once poured out his soul unto death, and now maketh intercession for the transgressors, will see to it that our pleadings shall not be rejected. In all our intercessions we must remember Calvary; the incense altar for us must on the horn of its strength be always sprinkled with the blood.
And, dearly beloved, as this must be the plea of our intercession, so it must be our impulse in making intercession. When we pray we come, as it were, to this golden altar, and we look thereon: what is that we see? Stains of blood! We look again, and again see crimson spots, while all the four horns are red with blood. Did my Lord pour out his soul unto death for men, and shall not I pour out my soul in living earnest when I pray? Can you now bow your knee to plead with God and not feel your heart set upon the good of men, when you see that your Lord has laid down his life that they may be saved? Cold prayers and dull pleadings would vanish if we would but remember how Jesus loved; how being in an agony he sweat as it were great drops of blood. Brethren, we are sadly blameworthy for neglect of intercessory prayer. I cannot tell how much of blessing is being withheld, because we do not pray importunately for our fellow-men. May the Lord arouse us! May he never permit us to neglect the precious use of the mercy-seat! When the late Dr. Bacchus was ill, and near to die, a surgeon visited him, and as he went out of the door, he was observed to speak to the servant. The good old divine begged the attendant to tell him what the surgeon said. After some pause he said, “Dear Sir, he told me not to leave you, for you could not live more than another half-hour.” “Then,” said the saint, “help me out of bed, let me get upon my knees and spend my last half hour on earth in praying for the church of God, and for the salvation of men.” What a blessed way of spending one’s last half-hour; let me rather say— what a blessed way of spending half-an-hour at any time! Try it this afternoon! I do not know any method of benefiting our friends which is more constantly open to us all than that of intercessory prayer; and I cannot give you a better argument why you should use it than this, that your Lord has sprinkled the golden altar of intercession with his own blood. Where he poured out his blood, will not you pour out your tears? He has given his bleeding heart for men, will not you give your pleading lips?
I think, too, I must say that this smearing of the horns of the altar with blood is meant to give us very great encouragement and assurance whenever we come to God in prayer. Never give anybody up, however bad he may be. If you know a man that is as much like the devil as two peas are like each other, still have hope for him, because when you come to the golden altar to offer your prayers on his behalf what do you see? Why, there is the blood of Christ. What sin is there which it cannot remove? “Oh,” you say, “did Jesus die for sinners like this man, and shall I despair of him, and therefore refuse to pray for him?” This is logical argument. We are slow to labour for men because we are slow of heart in expecting their salvation, and this arises out of our narrow views of our Lord Jesus. I pray you enlarge your ideas of God’s mercy and of Christ’s power to cleanse. Pray not with a phantom hope, but with solid confidence, and say, “Lord, I do but follow with my tears where thou hast been with thy blood. I am pleading for this man’s pardon, and thou art also making intercession for transgressors. I am pleading for those whom thou hast bought with thy blood, and therefore I am confident that my desire is in consonance with thy will, and that I shall be heard in heaven, thy dwelling-place.” When we pray, let us with vehement desire plead the blood of Jesus Christ. Perhaps fewer petitions, and more urging of the merit of Christ, would make better prayers. If we were shorter in what we ask for, but longer in pleading the reason why we should obtain, we might prevail more easily. I suggest that we use fewer nails; but take care that those nails are driven in with Calvary’s blood-stained hammer, and clenched with this argument, “For Jesus’ sake.” May this sort of prayer be used by us all in private and in public, and then we must and shall prevail.
III. Time flies too quickly this morning, and therefore I must pass over many things I had thought to dwell upon. The last point is, THE BLOOD IN ITS INFLUENCE UPON ALL OUR SERVICE. You see We have been coming outwards from the vail to the golden altar, and now we pass outside the holy place into the outer court, and there in the open air stands the great brazen altar,— the first object that the Israelite saw when he entered the sacred precincts. As soon as ever he entered into the first enclosure his eye lighted upon the great altar of brass upon which burnt-offerings were burned, and oblations were presented unto the Lord. It was at the foot of this brazen altar that the bowls of blood were poured out continually, so that the altar was encrimsoned with it, and the soil around was soaked with the sanguine flood.
That altar represents a great many things, and among the rest our Lord Jesus presenting himself to God as an acceptable sacrifice. Whenever you think of our Lord as being an offering of a sweet smell unto God, never dissociate that fact in your mind from his being slain for sin, for all our Lord’s service is tinged by his atoning death. It is a great mistake when you are trying to explain any one of the Levitical sacrifices to run entirely upon one line, for there is a blessed union of all of them in Christ. The offerings of a sweet savour were all of them in a sense sin-offerings: there are clear indications of this. At the same time the sin-offering was not altogether an abomination, but in part a sweet savour offering, for the fat, as we have seen in our reading, was presented upon the altar. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder. You may look at your Lord under various headings, and separately think of his life and of his death; but never stereotype even that division, for his death was the climax of his life, and his life was necessary to his death. Always think of Jesus in all your meditations upon him as presenting himself to God and pouring out his soul unto death by way of atonement. When I see that great brazen altar I do not forget how our Lord was accepted of God, but when I see the floods of blood at the foot of the altar I am reminded of the fact that “He his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.”
Viewing the type in reference to ourselves, let us learn that whenever we come to offer any sacrifice unto the Lord toe must take care that we present it by virtue of the precious blood of Christ. The worship of this morning— God knows our hearts, he knows how many have really adored him, and he knows out of those who do worship, how many of us have presented our sacrifice, thinking only of the merit of Jesus as the reason why it should be received. When you rise from your knees after your morning prayer, have you really pleaded the precious blood? Your petitions will not else be acceptable to God. When you are praying at eventide, and speaking with your heavenly Father, have you your eye upon Christ? If not, your devotion will be rejected. As it is with worship in the form of prayer, so is it with worship in the form of praise. Sweet sounds are very delightful when we sing the praises of God, but unless the altar be blood-stained upon which we lay our psalms and hymns, they will not be accepted for all their music. We also bring to God our gifts as he prospers us; I trust we are all ready to give him a portion of our substance; but do we present it upon the altar which sanctifieth the giver and the gift? Do we see the blood of Christ upon it, and present our gold and silver through that which is more precious far? If not, we might as well retain our money in our purse. When you go this afternoon to your Sunday-school classes, or go out into the streets to preach, or go round with your tracts, will you present your holy labour to God through the precious blood? There is but one altar on which he will accept your services, that altar is the person of his dear Son, and in this matter Jesus must be viewed as pouring out his blood for us. We must view the atonement as connected with every holy thing. I believe that our testimonies for God will be blessed of God in proportion as we keep the sacrifice of Christ to the forefront. Somebody asked our brother, Mr. Moody, how it was that he was so successful, and he is said to have replied, “Well, if I must tell you, it is I believe because we come out fair and square upon the doctrine of substitution.” In that remark he hit the nail on the head. That is the saving doctrine; keep that before your own mind, keep it before the minds of those whom you would benefit. Let the Lord see that you are always thinking of his dear Son.
And, beloved, do you not think that this pouring of the blood at the foot of this brazen altar indicates to us how much we ought to bring there? If Jesus has brought his life there, and laid himself thereon, ought we not to bring all that we are and all that we have, and consecrate all to God? Let us not offer a lean, scraggy sacrifice, or one that is half dead, or broken, or diseased; but let us bring our best at its best, and cheerfully present it unto the Most High through the precious blood. One said of a young man who had lately joined the church, “Is he O and O?” and another answered, “What do you mean by that?” “Why,” said the first, “I mean,— Is he out and out for Christ? Does he give himself spirit, soul, and body to Jesus?” Surely, when we see the altar with Christ himself upon it, and his blood poured out there, we must acknowledge that if we could spend our whole life in zealous labour, and then die a martyr’s death, we should not have rendered even half what such amazing love deserves. Let us be stimulated and quickened by the sight of the blood upon the brazen altar!
Lastly, you notice the blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar. What could that mean but this— that the altar of thank-offering stood upon and grew out of a basis of blood. So all our deeds for God, our sacrifices for his cause, must spring out of the love which he has manifested in the death of his dear Son. We love him because— you know the “because”— because he first loved us. And how do we know that he loves us? Behold the death of Jesus as the surest proof. I long to put my whole being upon that altar, and I should feel as I did so that I was not giving my God anything, but, only rendering to him what his dear Son has bought a million times over by once shedding his life-blood. When we have done all, we shall be unprofitable servants, and we shall say so. All that we have given to God has been presented out of gratitude for the fact that God so loved us that he gave his only begotten Son to die for us that we might live through him. Load the altar! Heap it high! Let hecatombs smoke thereon, for it is built upon God’s unspeakable gift. When sin is removed, service is accepted;— “then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.” Attempt no offering of your own works till then, for unpardoned sinners bring unaccepted offerings. First, let the blood be recognized, and let the full atonement be rejoiced in. Service rendered to God with a desire for personal merit is abominable in his sight; but when our merit is all found in the divine person of his Son, then will he accept us and our offering too in Christ Jesus. God grant unto you, dear hearers, to be accepted in the Beloved. Amen.