The Altar, the House, the Name (continued)
The Holiness of the Blood
We are familiar with the injunctions concerning the spotlessness of the offerings of old - "without spot, or blemish". There was a sense in which the priests were expert fault-finders! Their business was to find fault if they could. The discovery of a blemish in a proffered sacrifice meant its immediate rejection. Their eyes were as the eyes of God in this matter. A beast was passed only after the most scrupulous investigation when the formula "It is perfect" was pronounced over it.
Such, likewise, then, was the blood, and this is the testimony of the holiness of the life of the Lord Jesus, and consequently of the nature of that Divine deposit within the born-anew child of God. We are not perfect or spotless, but the life from His in us is, and by its vital activity through faith and obedience we are to be conformed to His image, and are assured that one day we shall be like Him. Blessed be God, we have the earnest of perfection. This precious Blood does cleanse.
This leads us at this point to say a brief word on -
The Shedding and Sprinkling of the Blood
If we are not mistaken, the shedding relates to the whole question of sin, guilt, death, judgment; and by the shedding there is remission, and the whole ground of salvation is secured.
The sprinkling is that by which we are brought into living vocational fellowship with God. The Tabernacle and priesthood of old represented, not only Israel's salvation, but Israel's priestly ministry in the nations. They were meant to be "a kingdom of priests", and God's ministering instrument among and to all nations.
Hence there was a special significance given to the sprinkling of the blood. Although the Tabernacle was perfect as a structure; although the "pattern" was carried out to the last detail; although the priesthood was complete in number and adornment: nothing and no one could function until every part - altar, laver, table, curtains, candlestick, golden altar, mercy-seat, vessels, instruments, ear, thumb, toe, etc. - had been sprinkled with the blood. It was regarded as a higher function to catch the blood for sprinkling even than to slay the sacrifice and thus shed the blood.
Nothing lives in the service and ministry of God, save in virtue of sprinkled blood. Oh that men would see this today! The most perfect structure, the most complete outfit, the most ornate edifice, the most extensive organization, the most fastidious order, and the most devout purpose will all fail to function in the eternal interests of God, apart from the virtue of the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit - the Fire of God - is indispensable to spiritual life and energy, and He only comes where that Blood has been sprinkled. The Blood and the Spirit are one, and always go together - one as the preparation, the other as the attestation. Calvary precedes Pentecost. The Cross is the way to the glorifying. To be crucified with Christ is to have put away that "flesh" upon which the Holy Oil may not come. God is never going to quicken and vitalize what He has for ever put away; neither will He glorify and use in His service that which is of man.
Whatever the means and methods or necessities which come in their course, the one all-inclusive object of the Divine reactions is to have that in the earth which is wholly and undividedly of God. To this end it is essential that the Cross be wrought so deeply into the experience of the Lord's servants that they shall come to utter despair as to themselves and all else, and send up a full heart-cry for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. To such a crisis the Lord will work by all manner of means, slowly breaking down all other ground of confidence, and writing "failure" on all other resource.
The testimony of the Blood, the Cross, then, is the testimony of that which is uniquely, wholly sacredly of God in absolute holiness.
(continued with # 23 - (The Incorruptibility of the Blood)