A Regulator of Church Purity: The Ceremonial Law
Section #1: Introduction
Section #3: Separation from Once-Born Imposters
Heretofore, the salvation of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Exodus Generation has been thoroughly proven. The spiritual companionship with and among these saved men constituted The Church, existing from Genesis until now. Understanding this is necessary for a deeper understanding of the content of this Chapter, but the content herein provided will not be unbeneficial to those who have not followed the content of these volumes heretofore.
In summation, however, an overview of primary points is necessary to prepare the mind for a proper study of the Ceremonial Law. Without understanding the salvation of the Exodus Generation, The Church, the Mosaic Law will appear to be a carnal enigma of monotonous regulations. As we have noted before, the Passover, the Red Sea Baptism, the Manna, and the Water from the Rock were all spiritually alive experiences of salvation, but there is much more that can be observed through the institution of the Ceremonial Law. When surveying the Old Testament the typological pictures may change - the locations, peoples, and nations from which Israel must maintain salvific separateness may change - but the institution of ceremonial shadows do continue to convey a spiritual union with the Living God! This chapter is devoted to uncover the spiritual significance of the Mosaic Law (The Spirituality of the Law) that we might understand how Church Purity was regulated thereby.
Before addressing the Ceremonial Law in specific, we must hold in memory what has been heretofore covered in Volume I: namely that God’s salvation for Israel was, in its beginning, a saving separation. Before the institution of the Mosaic Law, the Exodus Generation was saved by faith through grace in the pre-incarnate Christ. To understand such a claim one must understand The Church as it existed in the Old Testament: an assembly of “called out ones” physically, spiritually, and literally. In summary, this meant that the Exodus Generations’ salvation was a separation from Egypt (a bondage-breaking victory that resulted in freedom from slavery), but not just in the physical realm. This is, to us, an outward figure of spiritual regeneration within, but this was, to them, actual regeneration within! And, furthermore, this miraculous and compulsory “calling out” of Egypt was not new but old… this was the same salvific “calling” by which Abraham separated from Terah, Isaac separated from Ishmael, and Jacob separated from Esau, and so, likewise, Israel separated from Egypt.
For Israel in the Exodus Generation this was salvation begun. If salvation begun was a separation, salvation continued must be a separation continued, hence the establishment of the Mosaic Law. You may not recognize this yet, my reader, but this was and is the purpose of “The Mosaic Law”. The Mosaic Law further expounds the holiness and separateness of salvation as seen in the lives of these former saints (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), thus by progressive revelation throughout the centuries of time we can see a clearer picture of God’s purpose of separation as it was originally intended and exemplified. My reader, all scripture rings the same sound! As it was originally intended it has been increasingly expounded, until, that is, we reach the apex of all purposes and Covenants – the New Testament in Jesus Christ – thus upon understanding all the shadows and figures of past centuries and Covenants, we are enabled to understand the New Testament applications of these Old Testament commands! For a thought-provoking example of this, my reader, please see the comparison made below.
Old Testament Commands
“Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile My Tabernacle that is among them.” – Lev. 15:31
“But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit the Land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a Land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.” – Lev. 20:24-26
“And I will set My Tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” – Lev. 26:11-12
New Testament Applications
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the Temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1
The parallelism in the aforementioned scriptures is evident. What do these scriptures convey? Church Purity/Church Holiness is therein expounded, whether in the New Testament or in the Old Testament. The regulation of Church Purity was commanded and expected, not requested. This was because the presence of God was and is clean, sanctified, and holy, therefore there was a necessity that where He was dwelling, and those with Him, would be cleansed, sanctified, and holy. Inevitably, this was precautionary and consequential to a thrice holy God ingratiating their fallen persons and places with His awesome presence. The nature of God’s Person demanded this! Think of it, GOD’s descent was from the Holy Heavens, therefore, without surprise, the scenery into which He will reside must be fitting for His heavenly Person “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the Light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:16). The population among whom God dwells must also be holy, as God is HOLY, and this means Church Purity. In the Old Testament Church Purity was indeed regulated, therefore, it was written, “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest”, scripture declares, “and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy Holy Temple” (Ps. 65:4)! God was separate from man and did selectively separate individuals of mankind to dwell within the holy abode of His separateness, so the psalmist sang! Indeed, but can we sing along? It would help us to understand a few things.
We know that Israel became a holy people unto God, “the Church in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38), but how did saintly men commune with a Thrice Holy God when, upon sinning again, they merited for themselves wrath and indignation? How could this God-to-man communion be maintained and how can saintly men stay pure? In answer to these questions the Ceremonial Law finds significance!
Firstly, Atoning Sacrifices were offered to God according to the Ceremonial Law. Understandably so, the presence of God was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens”, and thus, without controversy, sinners must be separated from their sins if they will abide with Him (Heb. 7:26). Fallen humanity has always made their abode with sin, but for sinners to be housed with God there must be a dissolving of the enmity: the seemingly irreconcilable hatred of sinner-against-God and God-against-sin. How can it be? Behold, the burning sinner! – the sin-bearer – the animal’s body, the flames, and the smoke thereof ascending up on high! That’s how God did it. Behold the Atoning Sacrifices offered according to the Ceremonial Law, my reader! Albeit, let us not oversimplify and abuse this merciful allowance provided by the Law. According to OT Law, the flames of that burning body were to no satisfaction of the burning anger of God against sin, when and if the ceremonies were performed by Israelites who lived in willful transgression of individual or corporate regulations of Church Purity.
You must remember, my reader (as was formerly covered in Volume I), the Civil and Religious Government of Israel was not like the heathen nations round about Israel. The Civil Government of Israel was a Church Government. Therefore, not just anyone could engage with God through the means of reconciliation provided by Atoning Sacrifices. When a sinning saint of Israel sought atonement and made an offering, he was examined. The civil or religious Judges were not merely examining the crime and administering the punishment (outwardly), they were examining the soul to ensure that true repentance was granted to the erring heart (inwardly)! I repeat, the burden of the Officers was not merely a restitution of horizontal affairs man-to-man, no! It was, foremost of all and above everything else, a pursuit of vertical repentance toward God! Even after any chastisement was sentenced upon the man, an offering for the sins committed was necessary for the man to be forgiven, vertically speaking, and thus the Priest, knowing the Law, would not have received a sacrifice unless the man demonstrated true repentance towards God! Speaking explicitly of this, Solomon said, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind” (Prov. 21:27)? And again, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Prov. 15:8). Also speaking of this, David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (see full context in Psalm 51:16-19). With all this in mind it is evident and clear how the Ceremonial institution of Atoning Sacrifices was a regulator of Church Purity.
The story of Biblical Church History can be told on this wise, God demanded holiness, my reader, “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), and the Law was authored to regulate and make possible the impossibility of God-to-man harmony and communion. The near impossibility of this union and harmony is told by Biblical Church History, and therein the Ceremonial Law shines with methodical significance as a regulator of Church Purity and an establisher of reconciliatory peace. Think of it, my reader! The pardon of unpardonable sinners made friends, or, the joining together of irreconcilable enemies, God-and-man, and, yet, redeemed humanity remains sinning saints (we have the capacity to and inevitably will sin), even still, we are made to dwell in fellowship with the terrifying and glorious presence of the Almighty, “whose name is HOLY”, who is, still, deathly opposed to sin, and by existence He is everlastingly “separate from sinners”! Of necessity, therefore, my readers, WE MUST understand the call of God in 2 Corinthians 6:16-17. Albeit, to do this, we must understand how the Ceremonial Law did regulate Church Purity. If we will understand the shadow-to-reality transferability of these truths, then, might I say, we must understand the shadows and the realities.
The OT & NT Covenant Agreement: God-and-Man United in Peace
“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” – OT, Lev. 26:12
“I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” – NT, 2 Cor. 6:16
As seen by the OT Law of Atoning Sacrifices, the motive was God-to-man reconciliation. The fullness of this reconciliation meant a full establishment of The Covenant Agreement. This meant, in other words, “I will establish My Covenant with you” (Lev. 26:9). Again, what was the Covenant? It was the agreement whereby God dwells within and among men, redeeming them from all iniquity… but this is not a newly authored purpose found only in the Mosaic Law. Before we move onward, my reader, let us fully understand the implications of this ancient promise afresh.
This statement, in Leviticus 26:9, is much like how God spoke to Abraham, saying, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. And I will make My Covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly” (Gen. 17:1-2). Yes, of course, because the Church existed before what Steven the Martyr called, “the Church in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38). Abraham (and all Church Members for that matter) needed to be perfect or else God would not have established the promises of the Covenant between them-and-God. Thus, Israel, as seen in the Leviticus 26:9, needed to walk perfect before God. Contextually God did expound such conditions to Israel, by saying, “If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; “THEN” (26:4), “I WILL” (26:6), “I WILL” (26:9) – “For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish My Covenant with you.” The Covenant was marvelous, merciful, and wonderful in glory… ONLY if Israel obeyed. The fountain of these blessings was the immediate and indwelling presence of God, no doubt, a Person which must be obeyed! If God was not obeyed… He abandoned them. The foregoing tremors of this fearful reality are depicted in the Great Pause, formerly addressed, a time when Moses uttered the famous intercessory phrase, “For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth” (Exodus 33:16). When God does, as He said, “establish My Covenant” (Lev. 26:9), He would fulfill this most supreme purpose and promise which was of the highest significance to real and true “separation” – “And I will set My Tabernacle among you: and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people” (Lev. 26:11-12). I repeat, understanding the significance of this purpose throughout the Old Covenant will give us a mind to properly apply, divide, interpret, and comprehend what is commanded of us in 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1, where God commanded, “be ye separation”, and promised, “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters”, basing it all as an extending application to the OT shadow, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Also, for the sake of recollecting the content of former Chapters, my reader, take a look at the following points. By remembering the ancient and perpetuated principles depicted in The Church from generation to generation, we will be prepared to see the significance of the Mosaic Law in the light of scripture. My reader, the Ceremonial Law was only performable by those who walked with God, and none else. It was not a system of dead religion! As we continue, please remember,
#1) “The Law of Circumcision” established with Abraham was the means of government by which God accomplished a continued separation amongst His chosen people’s coming posterity, The Church. The Mosaic Law, like Abraham’s Law of circumcision, represents spiritual realities which will be increasingly and then finally unveiled with all mystery disclosed through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Every saint in every age was saved by and because of Jesus Christ, but some believed upon Him in the mystery of shadows while others behold Him in the open-face of His real Person with all mystery disclosed!
#2) And because these Laws are a representation of a saving spiritual union with God, inward and outward righteousness is expected, demanded, and upon neglect, punishable by public execution (according to the Law), and thereby with public execution faithfully upheld among the nation of Israel, God continued to maintain purity, holiness, and separation in The Church.
Remember how, in a very real way, a true Jew is one who was with God, therefore the Jews did keep the Law by nature and Spirit. Also, a Jew is one who was with God so as to be in continuing fellowship with Him, one who was not later separated from Him. The Jews were separated from sin that they might be inseparably unified with God. A true Jew is a member of the “Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), and all of them partook of the spiritual salvation of God (1 Cor. 10:1-4), and therefore, like circumcision, they were empowered “inwardly”, “by nature”, “of the heart”, and “in the Spirit” to keep the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 2:24-29)! The rest of the Mosaic Law patterns the purpose for which God established circumcision with Abraham. These earthly and elemental commandments are pictorial representations of eternal realities which were progressively expounded throughout the centuries until the climactic and culminating explanation arrived via The New Testament – and glory to God for the unfathomable success of the Person and work of Jesus Christ – “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” – Rom. 11:33
In this way, we can see that to be in the Presence of God is salvation gained; to be cast away from the Presence of God is salvation lost. Therefore the Gospel for Old Testament saints was, namely, BRING THEM TO GOD! Perseverance was, KEEP THEM WITH GOD! And for us, in the New Testament, the ceremonial shadow of redemption have faded into a reality so that we, mere Barbarians and Heathen men, who were of old known as God-forsaken Gentiles in the world, are BROUGHT TO GOD by the work of Christ accomplished on the cross! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might BRING US TO GOD, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). The reality is like the shadow, for, the shadow declared the reality, therefore God saves us by a Gospel calling which calls us “out from among them” into separation (2 Cor. 6:17), for the express purpose to be of the number that dwells in God’s presence. The NT inspired writers quote this OT salvific purpose as a NT salvific purpose, citing the OT Gospel call: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. WHEREFORE come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:16-17). Praise God! It is today, in New Testament reality, as it was displayed exclusively in one nation, The Church of Israelites, and therefore are the redeemed Gentiles become a Church to God, who is, “a Chosen Generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation, a Peculiar People” (1 Pet. 2:9-10)! These are staggering titles, every one of them with profound meaning shadow-to-reality.