Series: Scarlet Thread

Now for just a moment of review, following the scarlet line through the Bible: last time, we were speaking of the nine feasts in the Book of Leviticus, the sacred season – Leviticus 23, verse 2, in the Revised Version – the set feasts of the Lord.  They are nine:

  • the Sabbath, one day out of seven
  • the Passover in the springtime
  • the Sheaf of Firstfruits
  • Pentecost
  • Trumpets
  • the Day of Atonement
  • Tabernacles
  • the Sabbatical year, every seventh year a Sabbatical year; and then
  • the year of Jubilee – seven sevens; after years, the fiftieth year was the year of Jubilee.

And then as the life of the nation continued, there were two feasts added after the exile: the feast of Purim, purim, “lots” [Esther 9:20-32] when they cast lots for the destruction of the Jews, the day they were going to destroy them; Purim, when God gave deliverance through Esther.  And then the Feast of Lights [John 10:32], dedication, when Judas Maccabeus sanctified and cleansed the temple after it had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes; the dedication of 164 BC.  Those are the set feasts of the Lord.

Then we discussed their meaning.  And while I use a little verse here from the Bible, the Scriptures will use the word tupos: types.  In Colossians 2:17, Paul will write that these things back here that we’re studying now are “shadows of things to come, of which Christ is the body and the substance.”  There is hardly anything that is more marvelous and miraculous when you look at the Bible than to look at a type.

A thing to be a type has to be something designed in an infinite mind.  When the Jew went to the tabernacle, did he see Christ in all those furnishings?  No.  No, he did not.  God gave the tabernacle to Moses and showed him the pattern of it on the mount, and Moses built it, according to the story in Exodus, according to the pattern, exactly according to the pattern that God had showed him on the mount [Exodus 25:940].

Did Moses know that all those things represented Christ, pictured Christ?  No.  He knew nothing of it at all.  When the Jew, when the Israelite, went through all of these sacrificial rituals in the temple, did he know he was prefiguring Christ?  No.  He had no idea of it.  Yet, their meaning and their design was in the mind of God.  And it was only in the after years that we came to know what that design was, what the meaning was.

To me, that is one of the miraculous confirmations of the inspiration of the Word of the Lord.  No man could do that.  He didn’t know it.  No man had any idea what it meant.  It was only in the mind of God, and it was centuries and centuries and centuries before the design that God had in them came to pass.

Why do all these things that we’re studying now, this scarlet line through the Book of Leviticus.  Why do all those things?  They were meaningless, had no meaning at all, except as God had in it a divine purpose, a divine design.  He was creating a type.  And when the antitype came, when the fulfillment of it came, we can look back into the Old Bible, the Old Covenant, and see exactly what God meant.

But when the people received it, they had no idea what it meant.  When the man, for example, offered the lamb of the Passover, he had no idea that he was typifying, he was presenting, the atonement of Christ for our sins.  He did not realize it.  But God did, and that’s why God had them to do it.  It was a prefiguring.  It was an adumbration.  It was an outline that, when finally we came to know what it meant, it is “Christ, our Passover,” as Paul writes, “who is sacrificed for us” [1 Corinthians 5:7].

I can give you an illustration of that same thing, of a design of God, in the New Testament.  I do not think that John the Baptist had any idea what baptism really meant.  God gave it to him, John said, from heaven.  John said that he received this ordinance of baptism from heaven [John 1:33].

The Jews had many ablutions, many washings, but they always washed themselves.  The Jew washed his hands, or he washed his feet, or his face, or his body all over, or he washed his pots and his pans, but he always did it himself.  The first time the Jew ever saw a man take another man and wash him was when John the Baptist did it.  That’s the first time in the history of the world that a man ever took another man and washed him.

Now, to John that was a purification, a cleansing, a getting ready for the kingdom of heaven, the coming of the Messiah.  I know that because in the third chapter of the Book of John, the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus were in an altercation.  They were in an argument.  And when the disciples of John brought it to John, they said to John, “He to whom you witnessed is baptizing more disciples than you” [John 3:26].

Now the discussion between the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus was over purification, cleansing, the rite of cleansing, cleaning us up, getting us ready for the Messianic kingdom.  But when they take it to John to discuss it, they speak of it as baptism.  So I know by that, when they discuss purification, that when they take it to John, they call it baptism – I know by that that John thought his baptism was a purification, it was a cleansing, which it is.  There’s nothing wrong in that.  But God had an infinitely deeper design and meaning for baptism than what John the Baptist thought it was.

What was the infinite design of Jesus for the baptism that He gave to John?  When finally we came to know what it meant, after the resurrection of our Lord and after its inculcation and acceptance into the body of Christ, the church, and after the revealed, sanctified, inspired teachings of Paul, we learn in the Epistles that baptism is really and actually not just a purification, not just a cleansing, but it is also a burial and a resurrection.  We are buried with Christ in the likeness of His death; we are raised with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection [Romans 6:3-5].

But John never saw that.  John didn’t know that.  The meaning of the design was in the mind of God, and it was only in the after years that we came to know what actually it meant.

John could not understand how the Messiah could be a great King and sovereign and a lowly Servant.  That’s why he sent to Jesus to find out if He were also the Coming King, the axe laid at the foot of the tree, who was going to burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.  Is He also that, as well as the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God? [Matthew 11:1-3].  It was John who introduced Him as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world [John 1:29], but he also introduced Him as a burning fire who would bring judgment to the earth [Matthew 3:12].

John never knew that Jesus was going to die and be raised from the dead.  So the ordinance that he presented was one that he did not know what it meant.  To him, it was just a washing, just a cleansing.  But the design was in the mind of God.

Now, all of these things that we’re studying here in this Book of Leviticus are just like that.  That is, I repeat, one of the marvelous confirmations of the inspiration of the Scriptures.  These people write these things down, and they do these things, and they follow these things for centuries, and in some instances for a thousand four hundred, five hundred years, but they did not know the meaning of it until God brought its meaning to us in Christ Jesus.

This is the meaning of a type: something God did with infinite design and put it there in the life of the people.  They didn’t know what it meant, but in the after years, we came to see what God designed in these wonderful types.

And let me tell you another thing about the types.  There is far more of Christ, far, far more of Christ, in the types of the Old Covenant than in any other area in it, far more.  You have some passages such as in Isaiah, a few in Jeremiah, some in Zechariah, a few places like that, where you’ll find discussions about the Coming Christ, but the great mass of the literature of the Old Testament will not pertain to Christ personally at all.  But in these types, you have everything of Christ.  God put it there.  The design is in the mind of the Lord, and as we study these things that God asked the people to do, you are studying God’s idea and God’s mind and design about the great purpose of the coming of our Lord into the world.

So we were speaking of the meaning of the Passover [Leviticus 23:5], that is, Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed for our sins; the meaning of unleavened bread, the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Leviticus 23:6-8], which immediately followed the Passover – that represents the holy, heavenly walk of the Christian who has been saved in the blood of Christ, and there’s no interval between.  There is the Passover and immediately the Feast of Unleavened Bread; there is our conversion and immediately our holy walk before the Lord.

Then we had the Feast of the Firstfruits [Leviticus 23:9-14], when the sheaf, one sheaf, is reaped from the waving fields of ripening grain, and it is offered on the morrow after the Sabbath.  On Sunday, the priest took the sheaf of firstfruits and waved it before the Lord, on the morrow after the Sabbath, on Sunday.  And in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says Christ is the firstfruits, the first one raised from the dead [1 Corinthians 15:20], and then afterward, we that love the Lord and have been saved in our day and in our time, at His coming – but He is the firstfruits.  He is the first sheaf, the first one raised from the dead, on Sunday, the morrow after the Sabbath.

And then I made the observation – and to me it is poignant – when the priest came before the holy veil on the day that Christ was raised from the dead and the tomb of Joseph was empty, he waved that sheaf before the Lord, but the veil was rent from top to bottom [Matthew 27:31].  The antitype of the type had come to pass.

Then we spoke of Pentecost [Leviticus 23:15-22], and with this we had to conclude last Wednesday night.

Pentecost is the Greek word – Pentecostas is the Greek word for fiftieth.  Fifty days after the Feast of the Firstfruits, seven sevens, seven weeks, forty-nine days – then the fiftieth day was the Feast of Pentecost – the seven Sabbaths, the seven weeks called the Feast of Weeks [Leviticus 23:15-22].  And it began with a first sheaf of barley, the firstfruits, and it ended with the ingathering of the wheat.  And the two loaves baked were brought before the Lord and waved before the Lord, and they were made with leaven: the only time such a thing is found in all of the Scriptures.  Those two loaves were baked with leaven.  It is the exception that is noticeable in that.  Now, why could it be – because leaven is always a type of sin?  Those loaves on Pentecost were waved before the Lord because they represent the two groups in the church, the Jew and the Gentile, and the church is not free from sin.  It is, all through it, characterized by weakness and mistake and shortcoming and will not be perfected until Jesus comes for us and presents us before Himself without spot and blemish in glory [Ephesians 5:27].

Now, God did that.  The Lord put that design in it.  He said, “Make it with leaven.”  They didn’t know what that meant, but when finally we came to understand the mind of God, it was made, the loaves were made, and offered before God with leaven [Leviticus 23:17] because it represented the church – Pentecost [Acts 2], when God quickened the church, poured out His Spirit upon the church – and the church is not perfect.

Someday we’ll be the church triumphant in heaven, but now we’re the church militant in earth.  And as long as the church is the church militant in earth, it will have weaknesses in it, all kinds of things in it, like a mustard seed that grows and grows and grows and every dirty and unclean bird will mess it up; it will roost in its branches [Matthew 13:31-32].  That’s what the Lord said.

That is the church, and when you expect perfection in the church, you will never find it.  And that fellow who said, “I’m not going to join the church until I find one that’s perfect,” and the preacher said to him, “If you ever find a perfect church, don’t you join it because it won’t be perfect anymore.”  It is made up of imperfect people.

Now, there is something here that God did that is also a part of the infinite design of the Lord.  After Pentecost, you have a long interval, a long interval before the next feast, and the next feast is the Feast of the Trumpets [Leviticus 23:23-25], the blowing of the trumpets.  So there is a long interval between the pouring out of the Spirit of God at Pentecost and the blowing of the trumpets.

What is the design of God in that?  That represents the long years of this age of grace.  It’s already almost two thousand years.  And how shall this dispensation, this age of grace, end?  It will end with the blowing of the trumpets.  During the wilderness wanderings, there were two silver trumpets made of atonement money from the people for the calling of the assembly and for the journeying of the camp.

Now, what is the meaning?  At the end of this age, at the end of this church period, there’s going to be the blowing of the trumpet – the secret coming of Christ described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52:

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the sound of the trumpet, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.

Now, how in the earth did God do that?  The Lord did that.  They had no idea of such a meaning, but the Lord in His infinite design put that in this Holy Scripture [Leviticus 23:23-25], and it was only when it came to pass that we understood what it meant.

So God says by His types here in the Book of Leviticus, He says that the age, the age in which we live, is going to end by the blowing of the trumpets, by the raising of the dead, and by the rapture of His church.  The trumpets, according to Numbers 10:2, were for the calling out of the assembly – the calling out of the church, and that’s the way this age is going to end: secretly, furtively, unknown to the world.  But we shall hear it, the dead shall hear that trumpet.  We shall hear that trumpet, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed: that is the end of the age.

We’re not looking for a tribulation – not we – not according to what I think the Bible teaches.  We’re not looking for an Antichrist – not we.  We’re not looking for all of those judgments of God upon the world.  What we’re looking for is the coming of the Lord, the blowing of the trumpets, the gathering away of the people of Christ.  Then there will fall all those judgments of the tribulation, those awesome dealings of God with a sin-cursed and Christ-rejecting world, but we’re not looking for that.  We’re looking for Christ: the coming of the Lord, the sound of the blowing of the trumpet.  And it could be any time, any day, any moment, any hour, for when He comes at the blowing of the trumpets, it will be secretly, furtively, coming to steal away His jewels, coming as a thief in the night.  That is the end of this age, this dispensation.  Then shall follow all of those things that you read of beginning at the fourth chapter of the Book of the Revelation to the nineteenth chapter, in the great tribulation: the judgments of God upon the earth.

Well, those are the feasts of the Lord.  Now we’re going to speak of one or two of them in detail, in particular.  If he is a Jew – if he is a Jew, when Yom Kippur(Hebrew, “Day of Atonement”) comes, he will stop his work, no matter what he’s doing, and he will associate himself with his fellow Jews somewhere, somehow.  If he is a Jew, he will be there.  The one set season of the Lord that the Jew will observe is the Day of Atonement.  And in Leviticus 16:1-34, it is fully described.  If we had time world without end, we would look at this, but we must hastily summarize it.  On that day, the Day of Atonement, now remember, God put this design in it, and it is not until we read the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, verses 7 to 14, that we come fully to know what it meant.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest washed himself and put on linen clothes.  And then on that day, he presented before the Lord three sacrificial victims: a bullock and two goats.  He brought them to the door of the tabernacle.  Then he cast lots on the two goats: one to be slain and the other to be sent away.  Then the priest kills the bullock for him; that is atonement for him, for the priest himself is a sinful man.  And he goes into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the bullock, and he sprinkles it seven times before the mercy seat; this is to make himself acceptable unto God.  He himself is a sinner, and shed blood must prepare his soul in order to be accepted by God.

Then after the high priest offers the blood of the bullock which is killed for his sins, he comes out of the Holy of Holies and kills one of the goats for a sin offering, and he sprinkles the blood of that goat he’s killed for a sin offering seven times before the mercy seat.

Then he comes back out of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and he lays both hands on the head of the scapegoat and confesses the sins of the nation.  Then they take that scapegoat and take it out into the wilderness where it cannot find its way back and leave it there, sent away.

Then the bodies of the bullock, which was a sin offering for the priest, and the goat, that was slain for the sins of the congregation, are carried outside the camp and burned.  That was the ritual of the Day of Atonement [Leviticus 16:1-34].

When the Jew did that, he had no idea what he was doing.  It was something God commanded him to do: the priest, make offering for his own sins, come out, kill one of those goats, go inside and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, and come out, and on the head of the second goat confess all of the sins of the people, and then drive that goat away and send it out and away.  He didn’t know what that meant.  It was something God commanded that he do.

But when finally we come to know what it means, you find it here in the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.  I wish we had time to read it.  Let me ask you this: for your devotional tonight, read the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

What the ninth chapter in the Book of Hebrews is about is this Day of Atonement and what it meant: how it prefigures and typifies our blessed Lord.  Christ died an offering for our sins; that was one of the goats.  The other goat carried our sins away, out into the wilderness.  Christ died for our sins, and He carries them away.  He presented His own blood within the veil, up there in glory, having made atonement for our sins.

And He tarries there, interceding within the heavenly tabernacle.  And when He comes out, when He comes out, His priestly office shall have been finished.  When the Lord died, He went inside the veil, up there in the sanctuary in heaven.  There, He is interceding for us, and when He comes back out, this will end His office as a priest.  And He will be for us, from then on and forever, our Sovereign Lord and our glorious King.

We won’t need to preach the gospel anymore; we’ll all be saved.  We won’t need blood atonement anymore; we’ll all be up there, perfect and sinless.  We won’t need any temple or sanctuary anymore.  Isn’t that what the Book says? “And I saw no temple therein” [Revelation 21:22].  All the types have been filled, everything has been completed, and all that will remain will be our Blessed Savior, walking in and out before His people, talking to us, blessing us, giving us our assignments, just rejoicing together in a kingdom that has no end.

But all of these things God placed back there in infinite design.  We didn’t know what they meant until they were fulfilled in our Lord.

I have just a few minutes left.  The Feast of Tabernacles [Leviticus 23: 33: 43].  I was so sorry.  One of the rabbis here in the city sent word to me several times saying, “I want to come and get you.  We are observing Succoth, Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, and I want you to come out and to visit us and to see how we do it” – in their little booths with their branches and all.  I couldn’t do it, but I’m going to tell him next year we’re going to put it on the program, and I’m going out and let him show me how they observe this feast today.

The Feast of Tabernacles came at the fall time of the year, when the ingathering was complete, according to Deuteronomy 16:13.  And the feast lasted seven days, and it typified their rest; they’re at home.  And they dwell in booths, or in tabernacles as they call it, made of branches of trees, to remind them of the pilgrimage along the way.  So the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall represents our rest, after the ingathering of the harvest.  We’re at home now, and our rewards have been given us, and this is just a reminder of our pilgrimage along the way.

Now I have here in the little while that remains, I have some things here that I have taken out of the Book of Leviticus to show us the types of our suffering Lord in what was used in these ritualistic services, the substances themselves.  We’re going to speak first about things crushed and bruised and beaten.  Now look at it.  We’ll just summarize it as rapidly as we can.  In the tabernacle and its furnishings, it is remarkable that what was used in there was beaten, pounded.  “Gold for the mercy seat,” according to Exodus 37, verses 6 and 7, was to be pure beaten gold, beaten gold.  It assumed its form and its shape by being beaten into that form and shape.  The gold for the lampstands, that beautiful big seven-branched lampstand was pure beaten gold.  It took its shape not by being cast, but by being beaten.  It was beaten into that shape.

Now, the oil for the holy ointment and the oil for the meal offering and the oil for the lampstand, the seven-branched lampstand: without exception, always it is beaten oil, beaten oil, beaten oil.  Always, it is referred to: “beaten oil”; Exodus 27:20Leviticus 24:2Numbers 28:5.  It is beaten oil.  Now look again at the spices and the incense and the frankincense for the holy ointment and for the sacrifice.  Always it is beaten.  It is crushed, Exodus 30:36.  Whatever was used was beaten.  Now the manna itself: it needed to be ground in mills or beaten in mortars.  It could not be eaten any other way; Numbers 11:8.  The grain and the meal offering, the cereal offering, was always crushed and beaten; Leviticus 2, verses 14 to 16.  The flour of the cereal offering was “fine flour, well beaten and ground.”  The flour of the showbread placed in the tabernacle was always made out of fine flour; Leviticus 24, verse 5.  That is, it was crushed and beaten.  It was finely-ground, fine flour.

Now what is the meaning of that?  When you look at whatever it is, beaten and crushed and fine, this is its meaning.  This is the design of God in having the people do it: there is no unevenness in Christ; all the same throughout.  In us there are inequalities.  The fact that there are some beautiful characteristics in some of us suggest we are lacking in other characteristics.  But Jesus was perfect in it all.

How was He perfect?  He was made perfect through suffering: beaten and crushed, Hebrews 2, verse 10; Hebrews 5, verse 8 and 9.  He was perfect through sufferings, like the fine flour, perfectly smooth and even, crushing, bruising, served to do this.  The life of our Lord was perfected, it came to that beautiful consistency that God intended for Him through suffering and through crushing.

“Gethsemane” means an olive press, where they press, crush the olives.  Not only there on that last terrible night, but it says He oft resorted there in John 18:2.  Gethsemane has a meaning, and that meaning is found in type, and what was God’s mandate, and how they offered these things, and how they made these furnishings in the tabernacle.

Isaiah 53:10 has in it one of the greatest verses in the Old Testament: “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; and God shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”  Philippians 3:10 says, “That I might know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings.”  In Acts 14:22, it says “That we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  So the greatest blessings come out of our trials, and when God crushes you and bruises you and grinds you, He has in it a holy design and a heavenly purpose for you.  The wheat is crushed and ground before it becomes bread.  The incense cast upon the fire is crushed and ground, and in its burning, the beautiful sweet savor is set free.  The ground must be broken with a sharp plow before it is ready to receive the seed.  And we are not really God’s wonderful disciples until we are crushed and broken.

This week, I was on the platform twice with a minister that I knew many years ago.  And that minister went through one of the most tragic ordeals that any man in the ministry could ever suffer.  And the man who presided over the convocation said to me, “Do you know him?”  I said, “Yes.  I knew him years ago when he was a young man.”  He said, “Do you know of the tragedy that overwhelmed his life?”  I said, “Yes.  I know it intimately.”  He said to me, “You just cannot imagine what the tragedy in that man’s life has done for him.”  What did it do for him?  Did it lessen his power?  Did it destroy his work and ministry?  Did it rob him of his faith?   The man said to me, “He is one of the humblest and sweetest and dearest, most self-effacing and most capable, consecrated man I think I have ever known.”  It was Shelley who wrote:

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those

That tell of saddest thoughts.

[from “To A Skylark,” Percy Bysshe Shelley ]

When God crushes you and breaks you and grinds you, you think, “O God, the Lord has forsaken me.  He doesn’t love me.  He has forgotten me.  He is not kind to me, or He would not allow these tragedies to overwhelm me.”  Not so.  He is just perfecting you.  He is just refining you.  He is beating, shaping you into a lampstand to shine for Jesus.

Sweet people, I’m not exaggerating when I say to you no man could have written the epistles of the apostle Paul who had not been broken, and groaned; out of a body that was incarcerated and made bloody with stripes and stoned for dead.  Out of the trials and tribulations of the life of the apostle Paul came those words.  No man could have written them who had not greatly suffered.  So the whole meaning of God in His design in all of these things that we read in the Levitical worship, God put it there, that He might teach us that He can use us best when we are crushed and bruised and broken.

We must stop.  The next time we meet, we’re going to look at, following this scarlet line through the Bible, the amazing cleansing of the leper, the bird killed, and another bird dipped in its blood and set free in the heavens, and then the amazing ritual of the ashes of the red heifer.

May God meet with us in understanding as we gather next Wednesday night.

For more sermons by W.A Criswell, please visit www.wacriswell.com

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About The Author

W. A. Criswell was born December 19, 1909 in Eldorado, Oklahoma. He received his B.A. from Baylor University, and his Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served for fifty years as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, for many years the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention. As founder and chancellor of the Criswell College, Dr. Criswell gave his later years to preparing young preachers to preach the Word of God. Dr. Criswell went to be with the Lord January 10, 2002. His ministry continues through the messages he preached and the lives he touched during his seventy-five years of pastoral service. Over 4000 of these messages with notes, outlines, audio and video are available through the Criswell Sermon Library at www.wacriswell.com. The Sermon Library is a ministry of the W.A. Criswell Foundation, Inc. to assist pastors and lay people in sermon preparation.

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