Commentary - The Tabernacle Shadows

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:
because fear hath torment. He that feareth
is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18


Introduction

Although a lot of brethren think that once a brother or sister concludes that the church is not represented in the animals, that they (the concluding bother or sister) do not believe that the church should suffer nor that they have a vital role in the kingdom. These beliefs are not based on fact (just ask any who believes this way) but supposition. I know of no one who once held the traditional Bible Student understanding of the sin offering, who does not believe in the churches critical role in the Millennial Age. The church's part always has been and always will be vital in the administration of the anti-typical offerings. We generally agree that the church is represented in the sons of Aaron. It can be easily verified that the bulk of the offerings of the people were taken not by Aaron but by his sons. In other words those like myself believe, ‘The church's role is in the sin offering (process)’ instead of ‘The church is represented in the animals.’ Either way, the ministry of reconciliation is void of meaning without the church.

As previously mentioned, the other commonly misconstrued idea is if one doesn't believe that the church is represented in the animals then ‘the church has no sufferings in the gospel age.’ I'm not even sure how this conclusion is drawn. Every Christian believes that suffering will come upon those who follow Jesus. I personally use the phrase "priestly training experience" instead of "a sin offering experience." I hope this helps clarify what is and isn't meant by those who believe similarly.

Prominent Bible Student View

How do Bible Students conclude that the Church is represented in the animals in the Tabernacle Types?

Laying on of hands

The main way to draw a conclusion on what or who the animals in the tabernacle types represent is the act of laying on of hands. This action is very meaningful and yet it's significance is hidden today. In biblical times it was a simple and elemental concept. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews said that it should be understood by those on the milk of the word.

Hebrews 6:1 - Therefore, leaving the first principles of the doctrine of the Anointed one, we should progress towards maturity: not again laying down a foundation for reformation from works causing death, and of faith in God: for the doctrines of immersions, and of the imposition (laying on) of hands...

One reason why laying on of hands is not understood by Bible Students is that there is no biblical explanation is given in the tabernacle shadows.

"Other features of the same consecration were shown by the two rams mentioned in verses 18 and 22. The first mentioned was the ram for the burnt-offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon its head, thus indicating that it represented them..." Tabernacle Shadows, Pg. 42 Italics Added for emphasis

However, no rationale is offered as to this conclusion’s logic nor are any scriptures given to support it, so we need to biblically investigate this conclusion for ourselves. One of the first instances of laying on of hands can be found in Genesis 48:14. In this case Jacob is imparting the blessing to Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh. He crossed his hands and knowingly blesses the younger brother Ephraim. When Joseph objects, Jacob responds, "I know it my son, I know." No doubt that Jacob had learned well the principle of God choosing the younger over the older as God had with Isaac over his older brother Ishmael as well as his choosing Jacob over Esau. As he blessed Joseph's sons he acknowledged the choice of God over the natural choice.

Another instance is the passing on of power from Moses to Joshua (Numbers 27:19). The Lord commands Moses to take Joshua before the priest and the congregation (in the sight of all) to put him in charge. Joshua was the choice of the Lord, and the people needed to see Moses acknowledge this publicly, by the laying on of hands. Notice that in most instances of this act, the Lord spoke directly about his choice, indicating his decision on the matter. In this case with Moses and Joshua, Moses acknowledged the choice of God by laying on of hands.

The strongest case against the conclusion of laying on of hands meaning ‘this represents me/us’ is in Leviticus 24:10-23.

And the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelite woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)...Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him....And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses. Italics and Bold added for emphasis

Once again this can only mean that those who laid hands upon his head were acknowledging the choice of God that he must die. Now, if this act truly means that "this represents us" then the witnesses must be considered as stoning themselves. Clearly this is not the case.

The last example is in the thirteenth chapter of Acts, where Paul, Barnabas, and the leading members from Antioch had gathered to pray, fast, and minister unto the Lord.

Acts 13:1-4 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. Italics added for emphasis

The Holy Spirit chooses Barnabas and Saul to execute a specific work. Those who gathered laid on hands to confirm the certain choice of the Holy Spirit. In this and other cases, laying on of hands is the act of acknowledging or corroborating the choice that God had previously made. This action shows complete conformity rather than just simply making a mental agreement as would normally be required.

Having investigated laying on of hands, we can accurately reexamine these actions in the tabernacle. When the High Priest, the son of the High Priest, or an Israelite laid their hands on an animal it can now take on a different meaning. These people brought a sin offering (or other types offerings) and agreed with God that the animal bore and took away their sin. They were outwardly acknowledging their sin before God, the priest, and any other onlookers, that this animal is God's choice to placate their sin.

Finally, let us try to use the analogy of ‘this represents us’ in different biblical settings where ‘laying on of hands’ is used to check if this definition is consistent through the scriptures. The following chart helps illustrate what seems to be inconsistency of the definition of ‘this represents us.’

Table A.

Looking at Consistency in Definitions - This represents us

Example
found
in...

Person
Laying
on Hands

Tabernacle Shadows’ Definition of Laying on of Hands

Who does Person represent?

What object was
hands laid on?

Implied Definition
of object

Is the Definition - ‘this represents us’ possibly
applicable?

Numbers 27 Moses He represents me Jesus as Lawgiver Joshua Jesus Maybe
Acts 13 Those gathered They represent us ? Paul & Silas ? Not likely
Leviticus 8 Aaron This Represents me Jesus Bullock Jesus & Church Yes
Leviticus 16 Aaron This Represents me Jesus & Church (See Tab. Shadows) Scapegoat Great Company (See Tab. Shadows) No
Leviticus 24 Israelites He Represents us Undefined by Br. Russell Young Man who cursed Israelites No

In other words, if Aaron represents Jesus in Leviticus 16; and laying on of hands means ‘this represents us/me’, the scapegoat can not represent the Great Company unless the Great Company is represented in Aaron. So we can at least conclude that this definition is not consistent with other passages where laying on of hands was used.

The following chart helps illustrate the consistency of the definition of laying on of hands as ‘Acknowledging God’s Choice.’

Table B.

Looking at Consistency in Definitions - Acknowledging God’s Choice

Example
found
in...

Person
Laying
on Hands

Tabernacle Shadows’ Definition of Laying on of Hands

Who does Person represent?

What object was
hands laid on?

Implied Definition
of object

Is the Definition - ‘this represents us’ possibly
applicable?

Numbers 27 Moses Acknowledging God’s Choice Jesus as Lawgiver Joshua Jesus in Battle Yes
Acts 13 Those gathered Acknowledging God’s Choice Not Applicable Paul & Silas Not Applicable Yes
Leviticus 8 Aaron* Acknowledging God’s Choice Jesus Bullock Jesus Yes
Leviticus 16 Aaron* Acknowledging God’s Choice Jesus Scapegoat Great Company Yes
Leviticus 24 Israelites Acknowledging God’s Choice Not Applicable Young Man who cursed Not Applicable Yes

* Aaron always represents Jesus alone, an assertion dealt with later in this article.

Interesting Questions about Consistency of Definitions?

1. How can Aaron represent Jesus Alone in Leviticus 8 and then represent Jesus and the Church in Leviticus 16?

2. How can the Church be represented in the Sons in Leviticus 8 and then be represented in Aaron in Leviticus 16?

3. If Laying on of hands means "this represents us", then how can Aaron represent the Great Company?

4. If Laying on of hands means "this represents us", then how can Israel be represented in the young man who was stoned?

Is Jesus Alone Represented

Can we conclude that Jesus alone is represented in the animals?

Perhaps the most forceful writing against Jesus being represented in all the animals appears in the Reprint article "For This He Did Once." There the author contrasts Leviticus 16 with dispersed scriptures from Hebrews. Here a few logical questions are posed:

"...The first sacrifice was a bullock. The second was a goat. These St. Paul refers to as the typical ‘better sacrifices.’ (Hebrews 9:23) Let us meet this question squarely. What is the significance of these two sacrifices the bullock and the goat? Our opponents, and indeed everyone else, say that the death of our Lord Jesus is the anti type of both--the slain bullock represents him and the slain goat represents him. They tell us that both sacrifices took place at the same time, being finished at calvary.

We request them to explain why two animals should be killed to represent the one death of Jesus, but they cannot answer (italics supplied). They merely repeat that they believe that the two sacrifices were one and simultaneous--that they merely represented two aspects of the same sacrifice. We ask if that this be so, why did the apostle state the matter so differently—"First for his own sins and then for the sins of the people." Why was this same order distinctly marked in the day of Atonement type? (Leviticus 16) They have no answer. We ask them further how they understand the statement that the High Priest offered sacrifice first for his own sins? Did our Lord Jesus have sins of his which needed a sacrifice? Was he not holy, harmless and undefiled? Again they have no answer.

The answer to this question presented twenty-nine years ago, when the pamphlet, "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices." was first published is the only answer consistent with the facts and the testimonies of scripture. Those who are now opposing once believed the presentations of "Tabernacle Shadows" or claimed that they did. Now their blindness is so sudden that they hesitate to admit that they ever believed our presentations..." Reprint Article "For This He Did Once."

It is unfortunate that any writing must be so seemingly demeaning (at least to those who disagree). Notwithstanding, an attempt to address each question that was raised is offered here.

Question #1 - "We request them to explain why two animals should be killed to represent the one death of Jesus? What is signified by these two sacrifices, the bullock and the goat?"

Answer to Question #1:

The question is an excellent one to consider because it has profound implications. As we add more and more scriptural understanding to the answer we choose.

Leviticus 16:5-6 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, Italics added for emphasis

There are two anti-typical choices to make when looking at animal types. The first is that each animal represents the one who lays their hands on the head of the animal. This is the definition suggested in Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices. The second choice is that each animal represents a different aspect of the same person, namely Jesus. There is a simple yet eloquent answer to the fact that there were two different animals used for sin offerings in this chapter. The church perceives the death of Christ on their behalf. This is the most mature sense of his sacrifice, especially when compared to the world. Mankind will never have the personal insight into his death that the church has. That is why a bullock is offered for "his house." The bullock is symbolic of the tireless strength of our Lord Jesus. A bull is known for the toughest and most demanding work. This is how the church knows our Lord Jesus, but the world will know him in the characteristics of a goat. They won't have the maturity of understanding as do the sons of God because their experiences will not have the obstacles that the church has in this age. The goat is of lesser value to an Israelite than a bullock, in practical as well as market value. In addition, the goat might show the sanctifying effect* that his death has upon them. The subject of the tabernacle animals and there intended meaning is too large to deal with here but the contrast can be best appreciated by having two animals show Jesus' death.

Question #2 - Who is the bullock for?

Answer to Question #2

Aspect #1 of Jesus death as a sin offering, "For His House"

Leviticus 16:6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. Italics and bold added for emphasis

There are many plain (and have no need for elaboration) scriptures that speak of the church being the house of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

2 Corinthians 6:16 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.

1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? Italics and bold added for emphasis

Question #3 - Why have two goats for one sin offering for the people?

Answer to Question #3

Leviticus 16:5-16 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering... And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness...Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Leviticus 16:20-22 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (Bold added for emphasis)

2 Goats equals 1 Sin offering

There are two facts stated in this passage that are not discussed much by Bible Students. The first is that two goats are offered as one sin offering. The second is that although the Lord's goat is for the people, its main function is to cleanse the sanctuary or holy place. Without a cleansed sanctuary no ministry can take place even if the people are personally atoned for. God's first concern is not for the personal sins of the people but for a way to access his people. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses the anti typical tabernacle. Without the death of Jesus, God will not and can not dwell amongst his people. This fact seems far more important than the removal of our sins because his sanctuary is not able to receive sinners. The work of the second goat shows the second aspect of Jesus’ death on the cross. He died as an offering for the people as well as for the sanctuary, providing a way for God to reach man and allow man to approach God. How beautiful is this picture of man's recovery. Let's further investigate these aspects individually.

Aspect #2 of Jesus death as a sin offering, "For God and His Sanctuary*"

We have presented to us the greatest dichotomy this universe has ever known! The Lord has outlined for us his complete satisfaction as well as his utter displeasure in our Lord's death. It is fascinating that God should provide (The goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell) a goat for himself. The Lord's goat (or goat for the Lord) shows Jesus' death as a sin offering, gratifying God and allowing him to start the atonement process. In other words it shows Christ's death has perfectly glorified God with respect to sin. God has been dishonored ever since Adam fell. His truth has been shunned; his sovereignty condemned; his glory covered up; his holy name trampled upon by our ungodly race. Now we know that Christ's death on the cross has completely exonerated his glory and has allowed him to bring forth grace, mercy and loving kindness to all men. Far too often this aspect of the death of Christ is overlooked because we never bear in mind the benefits God has received by the obedience of his beloved son. For it is indeed "the grace of God that brings salvation."

John 12:27 - Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

John 12:28 - Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. Italics added for emphasis

Aspect #3 of Jesus death as a sin offering, "For the Sins of the People"

Leviticus 16:10,20-22 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (Bold added for emphasis)

The second goat removes 3 important stains from the souls of the people; iniquities, transgressions, and sins. Who but Jesus could remove this ugliness from the people? Not another soul could, nor is it necessary that any other deaths occur for these aspects of fallen humanity. He who was sinless was made sin on our behalf. God cursed him in the flesh to save you and me. Who else but Jesus could accomplish all this on God's behalf as well as our behalf?

Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all

Isaiah 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Romans 3:24-25 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Italics and Bold added for emphasis

Question #4 - We ask them further how they understand the statement that the High Priest offered sacrifice first for his own sins? Did our Lord Jesus have sins of his which needed a sacrifice? Was he not holy, harmless and undefiled?

Answer to Question #4*

An answer to this question can easily be found in the Tabernacle Shadows itself:

"Being but a sinful man, like others, Aaron had to be washed in order fitly to represent the purity of the antitype, Jesus..." Tabernacle Shadows page 29 Paragraph 1

____________________

In summary there are three animals to show what Jesus accomplished as the sin offering:

1. Atonement for the defiled Sanctuary (For God to reach man).

2. Atonement for the Church.

3. Atonement for the sins of the people.

Scriptural Summary

Hebrews 13:10-15 - Let Us... Bear His Reproach

We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Hebrews chapter thirteen is probably most quoted as proof of the church being represented in the sin offering and no examination of the arguments would be complete without these scriptures. Every Bible Student is familiar with this context and most are fully convinced that (more from ‘training experiences for the priesthood’ than from critical examination of scriptures concerning the sin offering) the author is speaking of the church being represented by the animals. What are the reasons for drawing this conclusion? Because of the interpretation of verse thirteen; "Let us go forth unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." Is the verse saying; "Since we are also represented in the sin offering of the tabernacle, let us also be burned outside the camp like Jesus was" or is it another way of expressing:

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Hebrews 12:2-3

When we break down Hebrews 13:13, there are 2 items to contemplate:

1. Going to him.

2. Bearing his reproach.

Does going to him mean we are to be sacrificed like he was or are we to ponder what he accomplished on the cross? Certainly we can see Jesus' death at Calvary as "outside the camp" or away from the face of God. We need to always go to him at this place (in our mind's eye) to consider the lofty consequences of that scene. Does bearing his reproach mean being destroyed as he was or suffering hardship for naming the name of Christ? It could easily mean that we must suffer persecution for his name's sake.

Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

If the arguments are still fuzzy, look at the phrase "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood." Most consider the church as being the goat that is for and sanctifies the people but this phrase contradicts that thought by saying that it is Jesus who sanctifies the people. Prayerfully and honestly look back at chapters nine through thirteen. If you are open to what you are reading, the conclusion will stand out that ‘Jesus alone’ is needed to sanctify from sin.

Colossians 1:24 - Filling up the Afflictions

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Italics added for emphasis

Here is another scripture that is often used to support that the church is part of the sin offering. Indeed it should be pointed out that we do fill up the afflictions that Christ left behind. Exactly who are these afflictions for? The church. Now the question that should be asked is "are we a sin offering for each other?" I personally don't know of anyone who believes this. This passage may or may not correctly be applied to the millennial age but there is no basis for doing so by the context. This text is certainly a beautiful example of our priestly training but to make conclusions beyond this is speculation. May we all rejoice as did Paul for any suffering we have on behalf of our brethren!

Reasoning on the term "The Christ."

The term "Christ ,head and body" is used frequently by Bible Students. It is fascinating that this phrase doesn't appear anywhere in the Bible. This doesn't necessarily make it wrong to use this phrase, but great care must be taken when applying it. I have heard a brother say "anytime I see the word ‘Christ’ in the Bible, I also see the church being spoken of." This obviously is the extreme and minority viewpoint and frankly is wrong. By not scrutinizing the passage in use, this outlook renders it impossible to clearly understand ‘Christ’ in the word of God.

"Christ, head and body" shouldn’t be used at all because of the implications to other texts that are speaking only about Jesus and have nothing to do with the church. There should be no problem using instead, "Christ and his body," as in 1 Corinthians 12. While this concern may seem petty, there are severe ramifications when applying the principle of "Christ, head and body" to other biblical texts. For example, we don't consider the church part of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, yet we consider the church part of Aaron, or Melchizedek. Those scriptures don't mention the church being part of these analogies but they are used interchangeably anyway. Let's look at why this happens.

Aaron, Melchizedek - A Picture of Jesus

Aaron and Melchizedek are wonderful pictures for to get a greater appreciation of our Lord as High Priest. Bible Students generally feel free to associate the Church as the body members of these typical figures. The reason would seem to be the freedom to interchange or mix pictures. As previously shown, the term "Christ head and body" is often used although it is not a scriptural term. Yes, we can use "Christ and his body" as many scriptures put forth but can we mix them in other pictures?

The book of Hebrews supplies the interpretations we need. Look carefully at who is being spoken of:

Hebrews 5:4-10 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Bold added for emphasis

There is absolutely no mention of the church in this context. Let’s look at another set of scriptures in Hebrews that talk about Melchizedek.

Hebrews Chapter 7 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron ? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.

At this point the author has not mentioned who Melchizedek represents.

For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ " Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. Italics and bold added for emphasis

Once again, there is no mention of the church; only our Lord Jesus. When it comes to saving, Jesus alone is sufficient. Saving is what the Melchizedek analogy in Hebrews is all about. We (The Church) do not save anybody. We however, are needed to administer Christ’s offering for sin. The sons of Aaron were the busiest of all the priests. They took the offerings of all the people on the days that were not special, e.g. Day of Atonement. Indeed, the church will have their hands full bringing the approximately 10 billion people up the Highway of Holiness. But we can in no way accept that the church

Psalm 133 - The anointing of Aaron

This is a picture of Aaron put forth to emphasize unity of the brethren. There are attempts to substantiate the phrase "Head of the Christ company" in Psalm 133. The phrase that is used for this is the "skirts of his garment." Let’s examine this closely to see if indeed this is the intended meaning.

Psalm 133 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. Italics and bold added for emphasis

There has always been controversy over the meaning of "skirts" in this psalm. The disagreement is whether the anointing oil ran down to the skirts around Aaron's feet, or the hem (neckline) of his garment. Many explanations and Hebrew definitions are brought forth to substantiate one position or the other. However, searching for a definition is not needed because the psalmist explains by using the analogy of the dew on Mount Hermon. The anointing of Aaron is likened to the dew of Hermon that is created from the snow cap on top of the mountain. This frees us to draw the conclusion: since only the head of Mount Hermon was covered, only the head of Aaron was covered. The focus upon this psalm has been the body of Aaron when it would seem the psalmist is drawing attention to unity of brethren because of the head. The head of Aaron is the focal point of the psalm drawing the unity of brethren to the showering of blessing from Christ himself.

"The snow (of Hermon) on the summit of this mountain condenses the vapor that floats during the summer in the higher regions of the atmosphere, causing light clouds to hover around it, and abundant dew to descend on it, while the whole country elsewhere is parched, and the whole heaven elsewhere is cloudless." (Cyclopedia of Biblical Theology and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 4, Page 209

"When the whole country is parched with the summer sun, white lines of snow cover the head of Hermon." (Smith's Bible Dictionary, Page 242)

There should always be scrutiny leveled when one analogy is freely interchanged with others. In this case, attention should be brought to Christ (who alone was anointed) who sheds his grace, mercy, and power on his brethren. Just because we are the body of Christ in one analogy does not allow us the privilege of saying we are his body in other analogies where his personal glory or authority is being accentuated.

Conclusion

This attempt to explain an understanding of the sin offering is far from being comprehensive when considering all possible scriptures, especially in the letter to the Hebrews. The intent was to look at how conclusions are drawn as well as to how else conclusions can be drawn. No doubt there are more scriptures that need to be considered. I only hope to provoke reasoning on how we draw conclusions and possible incorrect assumptions (which everyone does). My prayerful hope is that we may all see our Lord Jesus as clearly as possible and that fellowship will be based on him above all. My prayer is that his body may not be divided by camps of thought like this subject does but that we can objectively and unemotionally discuss controversial subjects while still loving each other as Jesus does us.

In my early Christian life I enjoyed confrontations over doctrinal subjects. Now, a little wiser, I find it very distasteful and most often, unproductive. At the same time, I must be true to my Lord and Savior. My consolation is that he too made unpopular stands while loving his enemies and those who did not understand him. Just as you, I believe the truth should be proclaimed, but it must be done as a dove and snake would. I believe that this written work won’t change any minds. But I do hope that perhaps it can help disperse the myths that brethren who believe like myself :

  1. We don’t have a scriptural basis for what we believe.
  2. That we also share with the same exact hope to work with Jesus in blessing all the families of the earth, being qualified by the sufferings and lessons of this present time.

This information is reproduced by permission of the author: Andy Weeks who can be reached for comment at

Permission is granted to electronically copy and redistribute these files provided the copy right notice, URL site and E Mail address are retained as follows:

Copyright 1997 Andy Weeks


Back to the Friends of the Nazarene Booklet Page