ELOHIM's  Provision for Cleansing

IN studying the types connected with the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its service it is well not only to group together those that resemble one another as to outward form - such as the offerings, etc. - but to consider at the same time those which seem to have been instituted for similar purposes, though in themselves very different.

A most important series of types is brought before us in those which represent the provision that was made for meeting defilement. It is impossible to obtain a clear view of their spiritual meaning if they are only considered singly; but by looking at this wonderful sevenfold foreshadowing of ELOHIM's provision, we see how perfectly He has met His own requirements, and our need, by the death of His Son. The following is the list of these seven types, and the special kind of defilement for which each one was ordained.

(1) The great Day of Atonement was the day on which the guilt of Aaron and his house, and of the whole congregation, was put away.

(2) The sin offering met sins of ignorance "against any of the commandments of the Master."

(3) The trespass offering was provision

(a) for hearing false swearing, and not witnessing against it (the sin of the nation in Mat_26:60-61);

(b) for touching certain unclean things in ignorance;

(c) for uttering a rash oath;

(d) for sins of ignorance in the Kadosh things of the Master;

(e) for certain sins against the eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments.

(4) The ashes of the red heifer were for defilement from contact with death.

(5) The cleansing of the leper was for uncleanness left by leprosy.

(6) The laver was for the washing of the hands and feet, in order to remove defilement from contact with the earth, etc.

(7) The golden plate on the mitre of the high kohen with its inscription, "KADOSH UNTO YHWH," was to be worn upon his forehead, that he might "bear the iniquity of the Kadosh things, which the Benai Yisrael shall hallow in all their Kadosh gifts."

The first four give us different aspects of the redemption work; the fifth, as we have seen already, adds to this the thought of the resurrection; the sixth represents the washing of mayim by the Word; and the seventh represents the work of the Kohen Gadol.

Though all these types speak of MASHIACH, the defilement which is to be removed and the methods of cleansing vary much. One, therefore, cannot be said to supersede the other; for they must each give some distinct teaching. None must be left out, if we are to have a complete picture of ELOHIM's provision for our need; and the more we study them, the truer will be our view of His Set Apartness, of His estimate of sin, and of our constant need of cleansing.

(1) The first of this series, the great Day of Atonement, had a collective and national aspect, and the guilt of a whole year's iniquities, transgressions, and sin, was put away. The service of the day is divided into two parts - the offering of the bullock for Aharon and his house, and the offering of the two goats for the congregation: and it is probable that there is teaching in this.

Aharon and his house seem to have special reference to the Assembly; while the congregation of Yisrael would represent the nation itself, for whom the Day of Atonement will have its true fulfilment on the great day of their national humbling, when they look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn because of Him.

This is clearly seen in Vayikra 23, when this feast-day is shown to come between the feast of trumpets - the calling together of the nation - and the feast of Mishkan (Tabernacle), the millennial reign of MASHIACH. But besides this  interpretation there is an application now for us.

Reference is evidently made to this type in Hebrews 9, where the writer speaks of the three appearances of the Master:

First, in the past, "He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" - represented by the slaying of the bullock and the goat;

now, in the present, He appears "in the presence of Elohim for us" - as the high kohen when He entered with the blood into the Set Apartness of all;

and lastly, in the future, "to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation" - coming out in blessing, like Aharon, the question of sin having been settled for everyone for whom he carried in the blood - everyone of the redeemed host of Yisrael.

(2 and 3) The sin offering and the trespass offering are often considered together; but though closely resembling one another, they differ in some respects. The sin offering, as so often noticed, deals with sin, the root, as well as sins and transgressions, the fruit; but it is important to notice that each included sins of ignorance.

For an Yisraelite to plead that he did not know ELOHIM's Torah would not relieve him of responsibility. "Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty." Nor are we free from guilt in His sight, even though through ignorance we fail to do His will. These offerings prove that it is not enough for us to content ourselves with thinking that we are walking "up to our light"; we should rather seek to be "filled with the knowledge of His will," knowing that anything short of this is sure to lead us into sin. Paulos called himself "the chief of sinners," although his sin had been done ignorantly and in unbelief.

The word translated "sin" means to come short, or to miss the mark. According to "The Englishman's Hebrew Concordance," the word used in  Judges 20:16, "Everyone could sling stones at an hairbreadth and not miss," might be as correctly rendered "not sin."

There are two ways of missing a mark - we may aim in a wrong direction, or we may not have strength to shoot far enough. Many lose sight of this latter way of missing the mark, and think that if they aim correctly there is no sin. We are warned against coming short of the glory of ELOHIM (Rhomaios 3:23), the grace of ELOHIM (Ivrim 12:15), and the rest of ELOHIM (Ivrim 4:1).

"He that sin against Me wrongs his own soul" (Mishlei 8:36), in the margin, "He that misses Me," in contrast to the preceding verse, which says, "Whoso finds Me, finds life."

The following are some of the Scripture definitions of sin:

"sin is the transgression of the Torah" (1st Yochanan 3:4);

"all unrighteousness is sin" (1st Yochanan 5:17);

"whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rhomaios 14:23);

"sin, because they believe not on Me" (Yochanan 16:9);

"to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin" (Yaakov 4:17);

"an high look and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked is sin" (Mishlei 21:4);

"the thought of foolishness is sin" (Mishlei 24:9);

It is also sin to wrong a poor Achim (Devarim 15:9; Devarim 24:15); and to defraud ELOHIM (Devarim 23:21).

(4) The cleansing by means of the red heifer, at the first glance seems to resemble in some respects the trespass offering, as both were provided for touching something unclean; and therefore for want of closely studying the two together, the cleansing of the red heifer is generally made to supersede the trespass offering.

Again and again we read in commentaries that the former was for wilderness defilement; and no distinction is made between it and the sin and trespass offerings. It was evidently provided to meet a different sort of defilement; and although it emphasizes the thought of the offering of the sacrifice once for all, other truths are prominent in the other types.

Thus the cleansing of the leper seems the only one of the seven that speaks of the resurrection of MASHIACH as well as of His death; and the trespass offering adds the thought of reparation to ELOHIM and man. In fact, each one of the seven adds some truth which is omitted in the others.

In the ordinance of the red heifer, in Bamidbar 19, there is nothing to indicate that the defilement was contracted through ignorance or carelessness, as in the case of the trespass offering. It might have been necessary and lawful; for some one would of necessity be in the tent when a man died (Bamidbar 19:14); it would be necessary for some one to touch the body (Bamidbar 19:11, Bamidbar 19:13); it would be necessary for it to be buried; but although the contact might be necessary, defilement was contracted, and ELOHIM provided a sin offering (Bamidbar 19:9) to meet this defilement.

The one historical record of the use of the ashes of the heifer seems to bear out this thought. In Bamidbar 31, the Benai Yisrael are commanded to arm themselves and go against the Midianites to "avenge the Master of Midian"; and having done this, "whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain," are commanded to purify themselves according to the Torah in Bamidbar 19.

This seems to indicate that the defilement met by the cleansing of the red heifer might be necessary and lawful; and yet it was defilement, and could only be removed by the application of the remedy provided.

In our daily life, and in our work for the Master, we are constantly obliged to come into contact with spiritual death; so that we cannot fail to contract defilement, which will hinder communion, unless we are living in the power of the finished work of MASHIACH; for there is an affinity between the sin that dwells in us and the sin which is abroad in the world. The ashes speak of the finished work; for they show that the sacrifice has been accepted. Reference is evidently made to this type in Ivrim 9:13, and possibly in Ivrim 10:22.

The suggestion that the red heifer was ELOHIM's provision for inevitable defilement, would not imply that it afforded an excuse for sin, or that it was necessary to yield to temptation; but would rather teach that such is ELOHIM's Set Apartness, that in the unavoidable contact with the spiritual death that is all around us, our hearts become defiled, and that MASHIACH's death is ELOHIM's remedy for this, as well as for all other sin. This is a very different sort of defilement from that for which provision was made in the other types of this group.

The red heifer probably has a special Yehudim application in connection with the blood-guiltiness of the people on account of the death of their Messiah.

In Bamidbar 19, it was to be used for individual cleansing, and was not instituted as a national ordinance, like the great Day of Atonement; but the two prophetic passages which probably refer to this type seem to speak of it as a national cleansing, in connection with the future of Yisrael.

In Eze_36:24-25, we read: "I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean mayim upon you, and you shall be clean"; and in Zec_13:1, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, for sin and for uncleanness."

We have seen that the mayim of purification, which was used with the ashes of the red heifer, was for cleansing from defilement caused by contact with death. We are told by Haggai that Yisrael as a nation has thus become defiled before ELOHIM. "Then said Haggai: If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the Kohanim answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before Me, said the Master; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean."

The people of Yisrael have become defiled because of the blood that they have shed. The same chapter of Ezekiel which tells of their being sprinkled with clean mayim, gives this as a reason for the pouring out of ELOHIM's wrath upon them (Eze_36:18).

The promise of the fountain opened "for separation for uncleanness," in Zec_13:1, marg. (the very word used concerning the red heifer in Bamidbar 19:13), immediately follows the mention of the nation's guilt in having slain their Messiah; for the closing verses of the twelfth chapter tell us of their looking upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourning for Him. Then we read, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim."

They had said, "His blood be on us and on our children"; but He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" - and here ELOHIM makes provision for their cleansing from defilement.

If an individual had slain a man in battle, he needed the cleansing of the red heifer; if he had but touched the dead body of any man that was dead and were not purified, we read "that soul shall be cut off from Yisrael, because the mayim of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him."

Thus Yisrael as a nation has been cut off. "Unclean by reason of a dead body" (Bamidbar 9:10), they are unable to keep the passover feast; but here is a fountain opened for separation for uncleanness. They were indeed the murderers of their Messiah; they had themselves "pierced" Him, and no sacrifice in the Levitical offerings was provided for the sin of murder; but He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

In the day when they look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him, will He not, like Joseph, reassure His guilty brethren, and say to them, "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but Elohim"; telling them that it was ELOHIM who smote Him, that it was He who had said, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow"?

In answer to the prayer of Mosheh, Miriam was healed from her leprosy; and though she was treated as unclean, her defilement was regarded as far less than that which she had really contracted. It may be, therefore, that in answer to the prayer of the great Intercessor, of whom Mosheh was a type, Yisrael as a nation, though cut off for a time, will be judged as unclean, not as though they were murderers, but as though they had merely been present at the death of their Messiah.

The inhabitants of Yerushalayim are specially mentioned in Zechariah 13; and we are reminded of the ceremonial enjoined in Deuteronomy 21, where a dead body being found in the field, the distances of the neighbouring cities were to be measured, and the elders of the city next to the slain man were to take a heifer and kill it in an uncultivated valley.

The heifer, like that mentioned in Bamidbar 19, was to be one which had not been wrought with, and which had not drawn in the yoke. Then "all the elders of that city, that are next to the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley; and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Master, to Thy people Yisrael, whom Thou have redeemed, and lay not innocent blood to Thy people of Yisrael's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Master" (Devarim 21:6-9).

In that day, the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, the city next to the slain Man, will not be able to offer this plea, for their hands have shed His Blood; but yet the fountain will be opened for them, and they will be sprinkled with clean mayim.

It is very evident that in Yisrael's case, as in our own, the red heifer aspect of the work of MASHIACH will not supersede the sin offering and trespass offering. After the return of the people to the land we have many references to the sacrifices; and mention is made of the passover, burnt-offerings, meal-offerings, peace-offerings, sin-offerings, trespass-offerings, drink-offerings, and firstfruits. These are again to be offered; and in Eze_44:26 we have a suggestion of an individual use of the mayim of purification.

(5) The cleansing of the leper. Leprosy is always taken as a type of sin, and represents it under a terrible form; for it was and is an incurable disease. It could only be removed by miraculous power; so that the king of Yisrael when desired to heal Naaman exclaimed, "Am I Elohim, to kill and to make alive?"

The various miracles of healing which our Master performed during His public ministry bring before us the different aspects of the ruin wrought by sin and satan, and show how MASHIACH is able to overcome their power, undo their work, and restore that which He took not away.

Three times He raised the dead, as a sign that His voice could reach those who were dead in trespasses and sins - natural death was but a picture of spiritual death.

- Palsy might be taken to represent the enfeeblement of sin;

- fever, the restlessness and contagion of sin;

- blindness, the ignorance of sin;

- demoniacal possession, the enmity of sin;

- deafness, inability to hear;

- and dumbness, inability to testify.

  1. In the man with a withered hand we see inability to work;
  2. in the impotent man inability to walk;
  3. in the woman bowed down with the spirit of infirmity the degrading and depressing tendency of sin.

Many of these diseases are negative in character; but leprosy represents the corruption of sin, and speaks to us of its activity and progress. The two chapters in Vayikra (chapters 13 and 14) are full of typical teaching; but there is a great difference between the two.

In the thirteenth chapter, the man who had something "like the plague of leprosy" must be brought to the kohen, that he might pronounce whether it were leprosy or not. Various directions are given by which he could recognise the plague from that which was merely like it, the one great test being whether it spread or not. If after careful watching for some days it proved to be real leprosy, the man was pronounced unclean, and must dwell "without the camp."

If the disease did not spread, or if it covered the whole body without there being any raw flesh (as in Vayikra 13:13), the kohen knew that it was not true leprosy; the man was clean, and needed only to wash his clothes.

The ceremonial enjoined in Vayikra 14 was neither for the leper who is described in Vayikra 13:45-46, nor for the man who was pronounced clean by the kohen because not suffering from leprosy. These rites could not take away the plague, but were for one who had had leprosy and had been cured. They were for "the day of his cleansing," and implied his confession that he had been a leper, and that ELOHIM had healed him (Vayikra 14:2-3).

A miracle must have taken place to change the man described in verses 45, 46 of the preceding chapter into the cleansed offerer of Vayikra 14.

In the one he was smitten with a loathsome disease and dwelt alone - "without the camp"; in the latter, the leprosy having been healed, the kohen comes to him "out of the camp," and after following the directions laid down for his cleansing, pronounces him clean, and presents him "before the Master" - an expression which is used eight times in chapter 14.

This chapter does not therefore seem to teach, as generally stated, that the application of MASHIACH's death and resurrection can remove the leprosy of sin. This is brought before us elsewhere. The thought here is justification rather than forgiveness. The various sin offerings to which we have already alluded speak to us of the removal of the guilt of sin; this chapter tells us that the vilest sinner who is cleansed by MASHIACH is made fit for the presence of the righteous ELOHIM who "justifies the unrighteous."It is not enough for the sinner to be forgiven, he is also accounted righteous.

In the bird that was let fly over the field we have a beautiful picture of the resurrection and ascension of the Master; and it is the only one of these seven types which seem to touch upon the resurrection. This is very significant if the leading thought of the chapter is justification - for He "was raised again for our jusstification."

It is remarkable that we have no record of the use of these rites till our Master Himself came, and having cured the lepers, commanded them to go and show themselves to the kohen, and offer for their cleansing "those things which Mosheh commanded, for a testimony to them."

Our Master says. "Many lepers were in Yisrael in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian"; and he would not heed the ceremonial cleansing required by the Torah of Mosheh. Other Neviim may have had the Elohim-given power, but we are not told of it; and the very silence as to other cases of healed lepers emphasizes the fact that a miracle was needed to remove this terrible disease.

The Torat commanded by Mosheh were at all times a testimony to ELOHIM's hatred of corruption and defilement, and to the coming of the One by whose power alone the leper could be healed.

David, in Tehillim 51, probably alludes to this type, though it is often taken as referring to the "red heifer." He prays, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

In both ceremonies the hyssop was used, and the mayim and the blood; and in Vayikra 14, the blood was actually sprinkled on the unclean person. Leprosy made a man "white as snow" (2 Melekhim 5:27). David prayed that he might be cleansed, and thus figuratively become "whiter than snow."

In the earlier verses of the Tehillim he owns his corruption, and longs for the removal of his leprosy. In his confession he adds "that Thou mightest be justified"; and we see here, as from the story of the publican in Loukas 18:14, that when the sinner justifies ELOHIM, ELOHIM justifies the sinner.

The man that was a leper was to "dwell alone," as we have noticed; while the one to be cleansed was to be presented "before the Master"; and thus David prays, "Cast me not away from Thy presence" (Tehillim 51:11).

The oil touching the members and poured upon the head seems to be beautifully suggested in his prayer, "Make me to hear joy and gladness; take not Thy Ruach HaKodesh from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free Ruach." The shemin of gladness and of the Ruach HaKodesh rests upon those who have been "justified freely by His grace"; and by the mercies of ELOHIM they are called upon to present their bodies "a living sacrifice."

In the case of the cleansed leper, the ear, the hand, and the foot, were to be touched; but David felt that he needed the heart to be set right (Tehillim 51:10).

The cleansing of the leper had to be accompanied with sacrifices, "such as he is able to get" (Vayikra 14:31); to which David seems to allude in Tehillim 51:16-17; Tehillim 51:19. He would need the cleansing of the red heifer for slaying Goliath, and for all the other conquests which had been accompanied with bloodshed (1Ch_28:3); but it would not meet the case of the murder of Uriah, nor bloodguiltiness - there was no provision for such guilt (Bamidbar 35:31); but David felt that his sin had made him unclean as a leper in ELOHIM's sight.

(6) The Laver. The interpretation of the scene in the thirteenth of Yochanan is evidently the explanation of the laver; and from our Master's comment on His own act of washing the Taught Ones ' feet, we see that both were types of His provision for maintaining the communion of His people.

The laver spoke of preparation for service and worship in the Kadosh place. The Kohanim had been washed already, and needed not save to wash their hands and feet. The Taught Ones  were clean, for they had been bathed, but could have no part in fellowship with their Master unless their feet were washed. Is there not in these two a suggestion of a different period? - for the hands were not washed in Yochanan 13. Under grace all has been done for us; and if the walk is right, the work will be acceptable.

There were very few directions for the construction of the laver. Its size is not given, nor the amount of mayim it contained. That which it typified was an unlimited provision. Ephesios 5:25 is foreshadowed by the brazen altar, where "Mashiach also loved the Assembly and gave Himself for it."

The following verse gives the antitype of the laver, "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of mayim by the Word"; while the twenty-seventh represents the Assembly by-and-by, "that He might present it to Himself a glorious Assembly, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing": no longer in the outer court, where the brazen altar and the laver stood, but in the Set apartness of all, "within the vail, whither the Forerunner is for us entered."

The laver was made of mirrors (Shemot 38:8) and represented a mirror. There are two whom we see in the mirror of ELOHIM's Word: first ourselves, and then Himself. As in mayim the face is reflected (Mishlei 27:19), so in the living stream of revealed truth a man sees his own image.

The Shliach Yaakov tells us that "if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he behold himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was."

Paulos tells us in 1st Korinthos 13:12 of another Face that we may see in the same mirror; dimly it may be as yet, but as we gaze we exclaim with the Taught Ones  of old, "What manner of Man is this?" "Now we see in a mirror darkly, but then face to face."

In 2nd Korinthos 3:18 he tells us the result of thus gazing. "We all with open face beholding as in a glass [or reflecting as in a mirror] the glory of the Master, in the face of Yeshua Mashiach", 2nd Korinthos 4:6] are changed into the same image from glory to glory." We ourselves become mirrors to reflect His image.

Reference has already been made to the various meanings of mayim; and we have seen that when its cleansing properties are referred to, the Word is symbolized. "Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you." "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth." "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word."

(7) The last on our list is the mitre of the kohen Gadol, with its Plate of gold, on which was inscribed, "KADOSH UNTO YHWH." In wearing this upon his forehead we read, he shall "bear the iniquity of the Kadosh things which the Benai Yisrael shall hallow in all their Kadosh gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Master." In all our worship and all our service there is sin; and we need our Kohen HaGadol to appear in the presence of ELOHIM for us.

"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to Elohim by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them." The coming to ELOHIM here referred to is evidently the drawing near in worship, so often mentioned in Hebrews. We may come boldly; but as the word "therefore," in Ivrim 4:16 teaches us, it is because He is without sin, not because we are.

If there were more study of these seven types, we should not so often hear Believers saying that they were without sin; for by means of these pictures we see how many forms of defilement there are, how abhorrent they are to ELOHIM, and yet how He has wonderfully provided for all in the Master YESHUA Mashiach. We shall never get beyond the need of this provision till we awake in His likeness.