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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

Section I. The Sacrifice of Isaac

Gen. 22:1–14

1. TIME AND OCCASION OF THE EVENT. There are two indications of the time at which the facts told in the present passage occurred:

a. The opening words of the chapter read “after these things,” i.e., after the things told in the preceding chapter. Now this chapter relates to the settlement of Abraham in Bersabee and his alliance with Abimelech. Bersabee was in the Wady-es-Seba, a wide watercourse or bed of a torrent, twelve hours south of Hebron, in which there are still relics of an ancient town or village, called Bir-es-Seba, with two deep wells of good water.

b. The second notice of time is contained in the fact that Isaac was at the period of the sacrifice old enough to carry the sacrificial wood up Mount Moria. Aben-Ezra supposes that Isaac was only thirteen years old. Josephus (Antiq. I. xiv.) makes him twenty-five, while some of the Rabbinic writers believe that he was thirty-seven at the time of the sacrifice. (Cf. Heidegger, ii. 282.)

c. As to the occasion of the incident, God no doubt tried Abraham both for his private advancement and for the good of his offspring, for whom he was to serve as a model of perfect obedience throughout the coming ages. But this is rather the purpose of the trial than its more immediate occasion. Abraham is presented to us in the preceding chapter as enjoying a comparative rest and comfort after his long wanderings and sufferings. The promised son had been given him, Ismael too was prospering, Abraham himself was in peace with the Philistines and lived at Bersabee, possessing abundance of cattle and well provided with all the goods of this earth. It is especially at such times of prosperity that trials are needed to keep us in the proper spirit of humility and detachment from earthly goods. It is not then surprising that Divine Providence placed the trial of the patriarch precisely in the time of his greatest prosperity.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE HISTORY. Gen. 22:2: “Take thy only-begotten son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision (Moria, cf. 2 Par. 3:1), and there thou shalt offer him for an holocaust upon one of the mountains which I will show thee.” We may point to two parallel passages in the New Testament—Mark 1:11: “And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved son in thee I am well pleased.” Again, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, as to give his only-begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”

Gen. 22:6: “And he (Abraham) took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son, and he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword.” John 19:17, 18 gives a parallel incident of the life of Jesus Christ: “And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst.”

Gen. 22:7–10: “Isaac said to his father: My father. And he answered: What wilt thou, son? Behold, said he, fire and wood: where is the victim for the holocaust? And Abraham said: God will provide himself a victim for a holocaust, my son. So they went on together. And they came to the place which God had showed him, where he built an altar, and laid the wood in order upon it; and when he had bound Isaac his son, he laid him on the altar upon the pile of wood. And he put forth his hand, and took the sword, to sacrifice his son.” Not to repeat the parallel passage of John 19:18, we may point here to Rom. 8:32: “He that spared not even his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?”

GEN. 22:1–14

After these things God tempted Abraham, and said to him: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. He said to him: Take thy only-begotten son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision, and there thou shalt offer him for an holocaust upon one of the mountains which I will show thee. So Abraham rising up in the night saddled his ass, and took with him two young men, and Isaac his son. And when he had cut wood for the holocaust, he went his way to the place which God had commanded him. And on the third day, lifting up his eyes, he saw the place afar off. And he said to his young men: Stay you here with the ass; I and the boy will go with speed as far as yonder, and after we have worshipped, will return to you. And he took the wood for the holocaust, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword. And as they two went on together, Isaac said to his father: My father; and he answered: What wilt thou, son? Behold, saith he, fire and wood; where is the victim for the holocaust? And Abraham said: God will provide himself a victim for a holocaust, my son. So they went on together. And they came to the place which God had showed him, where he built an altar, and laid the wood in order upon it; and when he had bound Isaac his son, he laid him on the altar upon the pile of wood. And he put forth his hand, and took the sword, to sacrifice his son. And behold, an angel of the Lord from heaven called him, saying: Abraham, Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And he said to him; Lay not thy hand upon the boy, neither do thou anything to him; now I know that thou fearest God, and hast not spared thy only-begotten son for my sake. Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briars sticking fast by the horns, which he took and offered for a holocaust instead of his son. And he called the name of that place, The Lord seeth. Whereupon, even to this day it is said: In the mountain the Lord will see.

The foregoing type becomes clearer by the following reflections: a. As Abraham sacrificed his son, so did God the Father sacrifice his Son.

b. The son willingly submits to the will of the father, carries the wood of the sacrifice up the sacrificial hill, and is really, though not in a bloody manner, offered to God. All these particulars have their exact fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ.

c. The only-begotten is restored to the father from the doom of death (Heb. 11:19) after an agony of three days; so is the only-begotten Son of God restored to life after a three days’ rest in the grave.

d. The union of the mortal to the immortal element in both sacrifices has already been noted.

Section II. The Scape-goat

Lev. 16:1–28

1. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.—The ordinance of the scape-goat belonged to the Day of Atonement, or as it is called in the Hebrew text “the Day of Atonements” (yom kippurim); the Rabbinic writers call it merely “Yoma” or Day, and by this title it is known in the treatise of the Mishna. Philo calls it “the Festival of Fasting” and St. Luke (Acts 27:9) probably alludes to it by the name “the Fast.” The purpose of the feast is expressly stated in the law, to make atonement for the children of Israel once a year for all their sins and uncleanness. (Cf. Lev. 16:34, 16; 23:26–32.) According to a Lapide the occasion for the institution of this feast was the sin of irreverence committed by the sons of Aaron when they offered unholy fire in the tabernacle. Hence resulted the great reverence with which the Holy of Holies had to be treated, and the high-priest’s annual entrance into the Sanctuary. The reference to the death of Nadab and Abihu in the opening words of the chapter, an event related in Lev. 10:2, was well calculated to impress the ministering high-priest with the importance and the sanctity of his office. For, since the punishment of death had been inflicted for drawing nigh to Jehovah in an unauthorized manner, the successors of Aaron were most impressively warned never to transgress in this respect.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PASSAGE.—Lev. 16:21, 22: “And putting both hands upon his head, let him confess all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their offences and sins; and praying that they may light on his head, he shall turn him out by a man ready for it, into the desert. And when the goat hath carried all their iniquities into an uninhabitable land, and shall be let go into the desert, Aaron shall return into the tabernacle of the testimony.” There are several texts of the New Testament which form a commentary on this ordinance: Heb. 9:28: “So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many.” 2 Cor. 5:21: “Him that knew no sin, for us he hath made sin, that we might be made the justice of God in him.” 1 Pet. 2:24: “Who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we being dead to sins should live to justice, by whose stripes you were healed.”

LEV. 16:1–28

And the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they were slain upon their offering strange fire, and he commanded him saying: Speak to Aaron thy brother, that he enter not at all into the sanctuary, which is within the veil before the propitiatory with which the ark is covered, lest he die (for I will appear in a cloud over the oracle), unless he first do these things: He shall offer a calf for sin, and a ram for a holocaust. He shall be vested with a linen tunic, he shall cover his nakedness with linen breeches, he shall be girded with a linen girdle, and he shall put a linen mitre upon his head. For these are holy vestments, all which he shall put on, after he is washed. And he shall receive from the whole multitude of the children of Israel two buck-goats for sin, and one ram for a holocaust. And when he hath offered the calf and prayed for himself and for his own house, he shall make the two buck-goats to stand before the Lord in the door of the tabernacle of the testimony, and casting lots upon them both, one to be offered to the Lord, and the other to be the emissary goat: that, whose lot fell to be offered to the Lord, he shall offer for sin; but that, whose lot was to be the emissary goat, he shall present alive before the Lord, that he may pour out prayers upon him, and let him go into the wilderness.

After these things are duly celebrated, he shall offer the calf, and praying for himself and for his own house, he shall immolate it; and taking the censer which he hath filled with the burning coals of the altar, and taking up with his hand the compounded perfume for incense, he shall go in within the veil into the holy place, that when the perfumes are put upon the fire, the cloud and vapor thereof may cover the oracle which is over the testimony, and he may not die. He shall take also of the blood of the calf, and sprinkle with his finger seven times towards the propitiatory to the east. And when he hath killed the buck-goat for the sin of the people, he shall carry in the blood thereof within the veil, as he was commanded to do with the blood of the calf, that he may sprinkle it over against the oracle, and may expiate the sanctuary from the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and from their transgressions and all their sins. According to this rite shall he do to the tabernacle of the testimony, which is fixed among them in the midst of the filth of their habitation. Let no man be in the tabernacle when the high-priest goeth into the sanctuary, to pray for himself and his house, and for the whole congregation of Israel, until he come out. And when he is come out to the altar that is before the Lord, let him pray for himself, and taking the blood of the calf and of the buck-goat, let him pour it upon the horns thereof round about. And sprinkling with his finger seven times, let him expiate and sanctify it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. After he hath cleansed the sanctuary and the tabernacle and the altar, then let him offer the living goat, and putting both hands upon his head, let him confess all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their offences and sins; and praying that they may light on his head, he shall turn him out by a man ready for it, into the desert. And when the goat hath carried all their iniquities into an uninhabited land, and shall be let go into the desert, Aaron shall return into the tabernacle of the testimony, and putting off the vestments which he had on him before when he entered into the sanctuary, and leaving them there, he shall wash his flesh in the holy place, and shall put on his own garments. And after that he is come out and hath offered his own holocaust and that of the people, he shall pray both for himself and for the people; and the fat that is offered for sins, he shall burn upon the altar.

But he that hath let go the emissary goat, shall wash his clothes and his body with water and so shall enter into the camp. But the calf and the buck-goat that were sacrificed for sin, and whose blood was carried into the sanctuary to accomplish the atonement, they shall carry forth without the camp, and shall burn with fire, their skins and their flesh and their dung. And whosoever burneth them shall wash his clothes, and his flesh with water, and so shall enter into the camp.

As to the typical meaning of the emissary goat, the following must be kept in mind:

a. God’s own highest representative in the theocracy put the sins of the people upon the head of the emissary goat, even as “Him that knew no sin, for us he [God] hath made sin, that we might be made the justice of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

b. The sin-offering itself consisted of a double sacrifice; both goats represent Jesus Christ. Though the Fathers assert this in general (Theodoret, Cyril, Hesychius, Jerome), they do not agree as to the exact meaning of the living goat. Cyril supposes the place to which the emissary goat was sent represented heaven, whither Christ was to ascend. Theodoret supposes that the living goat symbolized the impassibility of the Divinity of Christ upon which the sins of the human race were cast, and thus lost all their venom. The double sacrifice seems to be regarded as a type of Christ’s sacrifice by the Apostle in Heb. 9.

Section III. The Ashes of Purification

Num. 19:1–10

1. DEFILEMENT BY CONTACT WITH DEATH.—The principle that death with all pertaining to it, as being the manifestation and the result of sin, is defiling, and leads to the interruption of the relation between God and his people or his servants, is not peculiar to the Mosaic law. Though it is found amongst the Israelites from the earliest times (Num. 5:2; 9:6 ff.; Lev. 10:1, 7; 11:8, 11, 24; 21:1, ff.), it is traceable in various forms amongst many nations of antiquity: thus the Egyptian priests were obliged to shun graves, funerals, and funeral feasts (Porph. de Abst. ii. 50); the Persian rules on the subject were remarkably strict and particular (Baehr, Symbol., ii. 466, 467); the Indian laws exceeded even the Persian, and the Romans and Greeks had similar customs (cf. Knobel, in loc.; Plutarch, Sulla, 35; Virg. Æneid, vi. 228 ff.; Euripid. Alcest., 97 ff.; Helen., 1450 ff.; Iph. Taur., 380 ff.; Thuc., iii. 104). The “tapu,” or uncleanness, regarded amongst the Maories of New Zealand as attaching to the man who has handled the dead, is such that not only can he not enter any house, or come in contact with any person or thing, without defiling it, but he may not even put forth his hands to the food which he himself eats (“Old New Zealand,” by a Pakeha Maori, pp. 122 ff.).

2. PURIFICATION FROM THIS DEFILEMENT.—The rites of purification prescribed among the various nations enumerated are similar to those laid down in the Mosaic law, in so far as sprinkling and washing form a part of them all. Moses seems here, as elsewhere, to have adopted pre-existing rites and embodied them with significant additions in the religious code of the Hebrew people for their spiritual instruction and advancement. The proximate occasion of the ordinance was probably the plague which had followed the schism of Core (Num. 16:46–50) in consequence of which the defilement of death must have spread widely through the camp. A special means of purification was therefore the more needed as the deaths then ensuing were in a special manner the consequence of sin. The ordinance would at the same time allay the fears of the afflicted people, and supply a ready means of purification from similar defilement in the future. The ceremony was also most instructive, since it afforded a vehicle of information concerning the real Messianic Atonement that was to come in the fulness of time.

3. THE MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE ORDINANCE becomes clear by comparing the following points of the ordinance with corresponding New Testament passages: a. Num. 19:2–6: “This is the observance of the victim which the Lord hath ordained. Command the children of Israel that they bring unto thee a red cow of full age in which there is no blemish and which hath not carried the yoke. And you shall deliver her to Eleazar the priest, who shall bring her forth without the camp and shall immolate her in the sight of all; and dipping his finger in her blood, shall sprinkle it over against the door of the tabernacle seven times, and shall burn her in the sight of all, delivering up to the fire her skin, and her flesh and her blood, and her dung. The priest shall also take cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet twice dyed, and cast it into the flame with which the cow is consumed.” Compare with this Heb. 13:11, 12: “For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Holies by the high-priest for sin are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate.” A similar application we find in Heb. 9:13, 14: “For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.”

b. Num. 19:9: “And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the cow, and shall pour them forth without the camp in a most clean place, that they may be reserved for the multitude of the children of Israel, and for a water of aspersion; because the cow was burned for sin.” Compare with this Heb. 9:19, 20: “For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.”

c. Finally, we may compare Num. 19:18 with Ps. 50 (51)9: “And a man that is clean shall dip hyssop in them [the ashes], and shall sprinkle therewith all the tent, and all the furniture, and the men that are defiled with touching any such thing.” And the Psalm reads: “Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.”

NUM. 19:1–10

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: This is the observance of the victim which the Lord hath ordained. Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee a red cow of full age, in which there is no blemish, and which hath not carried the yoke. And you shall deliver her to Eleazar the priest, who shall bring her forth without the camp, and shall immolate her in the sight of all. And dipping his finger in her blood, shall sprinkle it over against the door of the tabernacle seven times, and shall burn her in the sight of all, delivering up to the fire her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, and her dung. The priest shall also take cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet twice dyed, and cast it into the flame with which the cow is consumed. And then after washing his garments, and body, he shall enter into the camp, and shall be unclean until the evening. He also that hath burned her shall wash his garments and his body, and shall be unclean until the evening. And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the cow, and shall pour them forth without the camp in a most clean place, that they may be reserved for the multitude of the children of Israel, and for a water of aspersion, because the cow was burned for sin. And when he that carried the ashes of the cow hath washed his garments, he shall be unclean until the evening. The children of Israel and the strangers that dwell among them, shall observe this for a holy thing by a perpetual ordinance.

It is especially worthy of note that the ashes of the red cow purified from all defilements contracted by contact with death, while the sacrifice of Jesus Christ purifies from the internal defilement which has caused death.

Section IV. The Brazen Serpent

Num. 21:4–9

1. THE PASSAGE AND ITS CONTEXT.—We see from Num. 20:14–21 that the Edomites refused the Israelites a free passage through their territory. The Israelites were, therefore, compelled to seek a circuitous route by marching round the mountain fastnesses into the territory of the Moabites. Their course lay down the Arabah, between the limestone cliffs of the Tih on the west, and the granite range of Mount Seir on the east, until a few hours north of Ajaba (Ezion-Geber) the Wady Ithm opened to them a gap in the hostile mountains, and allowed them to turn to their left and march northwards towards Moab (Deut. 2:3; cf. Ritter, S. and P., i. p. 75, of Clark’s transl.). The Israelites were thus for several days in the Arabah, a mountain-plain of loose sand, gravel and detritus of granite, which though sprinkled with low shrubs, especially near the mouths of the Wadys and the courses of the winter-torrents, furnishes extremely little food and water, and is moreover often troubled with sandstorms from the shore of the gulf (Ritter, l. c., i. 53 ff.). We understand, therefore, why the “people began to be weary of their journey and labor.”

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE BRAZEN SERPENT.—a. The typical character of the brazen serpent becomes evident by comparing its story with its application to Jesus Christ as given in the gospel of St. John. Num. 21:8, 9: “And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign; whosoever being struck shall look upon it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign, which when they that were bitten, looked upon, they were healed.” John 3:14–17: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God so loved the world, as to give his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the word to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him.”

b. The Fathers and commentators have very copiously treated the typical import of the brazen serpent. The serpent of brass is harmless in itself, but is made in the image of the creature that is accursed above all others (Gen. 3:14); in the same manner Jesus Christ himself is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26), but he has been made sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). And as those who looked upon the brazen serpent at once beheld the instrument of their affliction and the symbol of their safety, so those who look upon the Crucified at once behold what they have deserved for their sins, and the remedy that God has offered them.

NUM. 21:4–9

And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of their journey and labor, and speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters; our soul now loatheth this very light food. Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them. Upon which they came to Moses and said: We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee; pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to him: Make a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign; whosoever being struck, shall look on it, shall live. Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign; which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.”

This type of Christ indicates that our salvation must come through the very effects of our sins, in so far as their burden is borne by us willingly and with the acknowledgment of our guilt, with a desire for freedom from sin and with faith in the divinely appointed means of redemption. Death, concupiscence, and pain are the effects of our fall; and it is by the patient bearing of these afflictions, by their union with the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we must merit our heavenly crown. For what they by themselves could have never effected, they can now bring about since God has made them the signs of his grace and the channels of the redeeming merits of Christ.








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