“A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.”
THE robe of the high priest’s ephod was of blue, the color of heaven, of deep lakes, of the glacier-crevasse, of the gentian and forget-me-not. On the hem of the robe were these alternate bells and pomegranates.
Those skirts may illustrate our own position. — We dare not take a high place near the head or arm; but, thank God, there is a place for each of us at the skirt, near the foot; and the holy oil will reach us there, for the Psalmist tells us that it descended even to the skirts of the high priest’s robe. It is a blessed thought, that we may receive the droppings of each anointing that falls on the head of Jesus.
But the anointing of the Holy Ghost always shows itself in sweetness and fruitfulness; the sweetness of the golden bell, tinkling with every movement, and the fruitfulness of the pomegranate.
We must be sweet, as well as fruitful. — Too many Christian workers are over-tired and over-wrought; they are peevish and, fretful. When they come back from meetings on which they have bestowed their last energies, they are neither sweet nor gentle to the home-circle, which has been so lonesome during their absence.
We must be fruitful, as well as sweet. — True religion is not a mere sentimentality; it is strong, healthy, helpful, fruit-bearing.
Some seem to think that to attend moving meetings, to be profuse in emotional tears and smiles, to make profuse use of the word dear, is to touch the high-water mark; let them learn that the worth of our life is measured by its influence on others, and its bearing fruit, which has in it the seed of reproduction. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.”
“And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.”
THIS chapter tells of the consecration to their high office of Aaron and his sons. The entire family is constantly joined thus together as one in God’s sight. Similarly, Christ and His house — which is ourselves, who believe — are one. We too must be sprinkled by the blood on ear and thumb and toe, as those who have been redeemed. We too must be consecrated and anointed; and there must be the cleanliness of which these words speak.
This is where so many have erred; they have sought consecration, anointing, and the priestly office; but have not remembered that their bodies must first be washed with pure water.
We must be clean in our habits. — If there is anything in our daily behavior which is not quite clean, it must be put away.
There seems some incongruity between the anointing of the Holy Ghost and the smell of spirits or fumes of tobacco. Any excessive indulgence of the flesh, even in legitimate directions, and all indulgence in wrong ones, are inconsistent with the life of consecration.
We must be cleansed in our thoughts. — Whenever temptation is suggested, even though it is still in the far distance, we must turn from it with loathing, and ask that the blood of Jesus may go on cleansing hour by hour. “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee.”
We must be cleansed in our intentions. — The self-life recedes as it is driven from the outworks of our nature, and goes deeper into the motives and springs of action. We discover that self is the spring of so much of our religious activity. Everywhere we need the laver, the hourly washing of John 13.
“Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.”
WHAT perpetual references to the work of the Holy Spirit, under the symbol of the Anointing Oil, meet us in these chapters. It becomes us to ask ourselves very seriously whether we lay an equal stress on it in our daily experience. Is it true of us, as of those to whom the Beloved Apostle wrote, that the anointing which we received abideth in us? It is not enough to have the Spirit in us for sanctification; He must be on us for service and ministry.
But He cannot come on the flesh of the natural man; He descends only to those who are washed, consecrated, set apart for God.
Many claim the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and try to reckon they have received it; but they find it fail, because they desire it for the flesh.
There must be no yielding to fleshly appetite. — When we were in the flesh, sinful passions wrought in our members. But there must be no permission given in these directions. A calm reverent, self-disciplined nature is alone fitted to be the seat of the Holy Ghost, his nest and home.
There must be no gratification to worldly pride and ambition. — Too many are eager for the Holy Ghost, that they may be able to make a name, or gather an audience; but God is not likely to give us His river of throne-water to turn the mill-wheels of personal ambition.
There must be no fleshly striving after it. — We wrestle and struggle to win the Spirit, and miss Him. It is only when our hope of attaining this blessing by our own efforts dies down, and we are humbled and broken before God; when we cry out to Him to give what we cannot win, that He draws near and gives the heat of all His donations.
“See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:”
WE lightly speak of a man’s occupation as his calling, and fail to realize the profound significance of the phrase. One man is called to the ministry; another to the bar; others, like Bezaleel and Aholiab, to work in all manner of workmanship. Each should realize, therefore, that faculty, desire, circumstance, constitute a Divine call, and that there may be as distinct a vocation in the merchant’s office, the tradesman’s shop, or in the work of a domestic servant, as in the Church itself.
The morning bell that summons us to daily duty is the call of our Father, bidding us to engage in the toils to which He has assigned us. He, who gave Moses the plan, gave the artificers the power to work it in gold, silver, brass, and wood. Let this be your faith; and each morning, as you go to your work, however distasteful it may be, say, “God has called me to this; and He will fill me with all the strength, wisdom, and grace, that I need for its right doing.”
Abide in your calling. — Unless it is a wrong or dishonorable one, it is better to stay in it than to become restless and changeable; and if you must leave it, wait for God to open another door.
Find in God the makeweight to all the deficiencies of your life. — If you are enslaved by daily duty, remember that in Christ you are free; if free from daily toil, in Christ you are a slave. The supply of every deficiency, the rectification of every hardship, is to be found in Jesus.
Mind to do all for God. — To do all in God and for Him, remembering that He sees and accepts all, not according to the results accomplished, but to the heavenly and holy motives that prompt the worker — this is to be blessed.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.”
THE heart of Moses was full of that great, wonderful new word, Atonement. For many days God had been telling him about it, and speaking it over and over to his heart. He seemed, however, to feel that no ordinary sacrifices would avail: the blood of goats and bulls would surely be insufficient to put away the black transgression into which Israel had fallen. But there was rising in his heart a resolve, to which he gave expression when he returned to God: “Blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which Thou hast written.” He did not realize that his blood would not avail, but that the blood of Christ, who should, in the fulness of times, offer Himself without spot to God, alone could put away sin.
In every heart there is a deep conviction of the necessity of an Atonement. — This is the source of the temples, altars, and sacrifices, which have marked the history of every nation under heaven. Man has felt as by a natural instinct that some reparation was necessary to the broken law.
The insufficiency of animal sacrifice. — In the Levitical system there was a remembrance of sin made year by year; but the sin itself could not be purged by such rites. The fact that the worshippers so constantly came back to offer their sacrifices shows that they were not assured. The priests always understood their attitude was an emblem of an unfinished work.
The sufficiency of Christ’s Atonement. — He was willing to be cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of His people; and because He died, there is no longer the “Blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which Thou hast written.” which in Moses’ prayer speaks of uncertainty; but a blessed assurance that we are at one with God, with each other, and with all holy beings.
“And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:”
THAT rock was Christ. In the Divine thought the position of Moses, first on the rock, and afterwards in its cleft, was a moving emblem of the position in which alone we can dare to look out on the sublime progress of God’s glory.
God is always passing by. — In the great movements of history which evolve His plans, and are leading to Christ’s advent; in the passage of the ages, which are His swift chariots; in storm and catastrophe, which break up old forces and forms of evil; in the goodness of His daily mercy; in the revelation of His character — we are always living in the very midst of God’s presence and power.
In our condition of weakness and sinfulness we need a position of stability and shelter from which to look on God. — No man can see that face of awful holiness and love and live. Sir John Herschel says that when sweeping the heavens with his telescope the brilliant Sirius suddenly burst on his view, he nearly fainted. Who then could behold God! But in Jesus, we are stable, established in Him, accepted in the Beloved; and in Him we are covered. The full blaze of the Divine glory is tempered to our gaze; it comes to us through the medium of the pierced hand. We stand on the rock; we are hidden under the covering hand.
Our Rock was cleft. — How scarred are the great Alps!
Their sides have been split by the action of tempest, avalanche, earthquake, frost, and glacier. Hence their clefts. But who shall enumerate all that has been borne by our dear Lord for us! What storms have pelted on Him, that we might have a safe hiding. On Calvary, a niche was hollowed to which a world of sinners may take shelter!
“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.”
UNCONSCIOUSNESS of goodness is always a main element in the highest forms of goodness: in the same way that unconsciousness is characteristic of the worst forms of depravity.
“Samson knew not that the Lord had departed from him.”
Directly people become conscious of their superiority to others, and boast of it, it is certain that they have never really seen the beauty of God’s holiness, and have no clear knowledge of the condition of their own hearts. They see that they have been cleansed from their old sins; but they do not perceive that the spirit of selfishness has retreated into the springs of motive and intention.
We are all tempted to this terrible self-consciousness. We are proud of being humble, complacent for being lowly, self-congratulatory because we take back-seats. In all this we betray the vanity of our pretensions. This sort of goodness is like a thin veneer of mahogany on very common table.
The real goodness is more conscious of the remaining evil than of the acquired good; of the lingering darkness than of the hill-tops smitten with the dawn; of that which has not been attained. But we can only attain this blessed condition by intimate and prolonged fellowship with God, in solitudes where human voices and interests cease to distract. The brightness of which Moses was unconscious was caught from the Presence-chamber of the Divine Loveliness.
Ah, what patterns are seen on the Mount! What cries are uttered there! What visions are seen there! What revelations are made there! What injunctions are received there! Oh for the closer access, the nearer view, the more intimate face to face intercourse, such as is open still to the friends of God!