Friday, June 9, 2017

Bunyan on Old Testament Sacrifices

The following is a small section of  a dissertation by John Bunyan (1628-1688) on “Doctrine of Law and Grace” from volume 1 of the four-volume set: “The Complete Works of John Bunyan.”  I personally transcribed it from very old copy in my library because I find it quite helpful in understanding why some of the details of the Old Testament sacrifices were commanded to be as they were, so that they properly foreshadowed the cross of Christ.  I suppose it is hoping for much to think many younger will take the time to read it, given the ever decreasing attention span ushered in by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, but despite longer sentences and paragraphs than we are accustomed to, it is definitely worth the read.

Now though those sacrifices were offered, yet they were not offered to the end they should make the comers to or offerors thereof perfect; but the things were to represent to the world that God had in after ages for to do; which was even in the salvation of his creatures, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, of which these were a shadow and a type for the accomplishing of the second covenant.  For Christ was by covenant to offer a sacrifice, and that an effectual one too, if he intended the salvation of sinners: “A body has thou prepared me; I am come to do thy will.” (Hebrews 10)   I shall therefore show you, First, what was expected of God in the sacrifice in the type, and then show you how it was answered in the antitype.  Second, I shall show you the manner of the offering of the type; and so answerable thereto to show you the fitness of the sacrifice of the body of Christ, by way of answering some questions.

First.  For the first of these, 1. God did expect that sacrifice which he himself had appointed, and not another, to signify that none would serve his turn but the body and soul of his appointed Christ, the mediator of the new covenant. (John 1:29) 2. This sacrifice must not be lame or deformed; it must have no scar, spot, or blemish to signify that Jesus Christ was to be a complete sacrifice by covenant. (1 Peter 1:19)   3. This sacrifice was to be taken out of the flock or herd: to signify that Jesus Christ was to come out of the race of mankind, according to the covenant. (Hebrews 10:5)
Second.  As to the manner of it: 1. The sacrifice, before it was offered, was to have the sins of the children of Israel confessed over it: to signify that Jesus Christ must (Isaiah 53:4-7. 1 Peter2:24) bear the sins of all his children by covenant, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant” in his own body on the tree. (Zechariah 9:10-11)   2. It must be had to the place appointed, namely, without the camp of Israel; to signify that Jesus Christ must be led to Mount Calvary. (Luke 23:33)   3. The sacrifice was to be killed there; to signify that Jesus Christ must and did suffer without the city of Jerusalem for our salvation. 4. The sacrifice must not only have its life taken away, but also some of its flesh burned upon the alter; to signify that Jesus Christ was not only to die a natural death, but also that he should undergo the pains and torment of the damned in hell.   5. Sometimes there must be a living offering and a dead offering, as the goat that was killed and the scapegoat, the dead bird and the living bird, (Leviticus 14:4-6) to signify that Jesus Christ must die and come to life again.   6. The goat that was to die was to be the sin offering: that is, to be offered as the rest of the sin-offerings, to make an atonement as a type; and the other goat was to have all the sins of the children of Israel confessed over him, (Leviticus 16:7-22) and then to be let go into the wilderness, never to be catched again; so signify that Christ’s death was to make satisfaction for sin, and his coming to life again was to bring in everlasting (Romans 4:25) justification from the power, curse and destroying nature of sin.   7. The scapegoat was to be carried by fit man into the wilderness; to signify that Jesus Christ should be both fit and able to carry our sins quite away from us, so as they should never be laid to our charge again.  Here is grace.   8. The sacrifices under the law, commonly part of them must be eaten, (Exodus 12:5-11) to signify that they that are saved should spiritually feed on the body and blood of Jesus Christ, or else they have no life by him. (John 6:51-53)   9. This sacrifice must be eaten with unleavened bread; to signify that they which love their sins, that devilish leaven of wickedness, they do not feed upon Jesus Christ.

Now of what hath been spoken this is the sum, that there is a sacrifice under the new covenant as there were sacrifices under the old; and that this sacrifice did every way answer that or those; indeed they did but suffer for sin in a show, but he in reality; they as the shadow, but he as the substance. Oh, when Jesus Christ did come to make himself a sacrifice, or to offer himself for sin, you may understand that our sins were indeed charged to purpose upon him!  Oh, how they scarred his soul, how they brake his body, insomuch that they made the blood run down the blessed face and from his precious side!  Therefore, thou must understand these following things: 1. That Jesus Christ by covenant did die for sin.  2. That his death was not a mere natural death, but a “cursed death;” even such a one as men do undergo from God for their sins, though he himself had none; even such a death as to endure the very pains and torments of hell.  Oh, sad pains and inexpressible torments that this our sacrifice for sin went under!  The pains of his body were not all; no, but the pains of his soul; for his soul was made an offering as well as his body; yet all but one sacrifice. (Isaiah 53)   To signify that the suffering of Christ was not only a bodily suffering but a soul-suffering; not only to suffer what man could inflict upon him, but also to suffer soul-torments that none but God can inflict, or suffer to be inflicted upon him.  Oh, the torments of his soul!  They were torments indeed; his soul was that that felt the wrath of God: “My soul,” saith he, “is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” (Matthew 26:38) “My soul is troubled, and what shall I say?” (John12:27) The rock was not so rent as was his precious soul; there was not such a terrible darkness on the face of the earth then, as there was on his precious soul.  Oh, the torments of hell, and the eclipsing of the divine smiles of God, were both upon him at once; the devils assailing of him, and God forsaking of him and all at once!  “My God, my God,” said he, “why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Now in my greatest extremity; now sin is laid upon me, the curse takes hold of me, the pains of hell are clasped about me, and thou hast forsaken me.  Oh, sad!  Sinners, this was not done in pretense, but in reality; not in show, but in very deed; otherwise Christ had dissembled, and had not spoken the truth; but the truth of it his bloody sweat declares, his mighty cries declare, the things which and for what he suffered declare.  Nay, I must say thus much, that all the damned souls in hell, with their damnations, did never yet feel that torment and pain that did this blessed Jesus in a little time.  Sinner, canst thou read that Jesus Christ was made an offering for sin, and yet go on in sin?  Canst thou hear that the load of thy sins did break the very heart of Christ, and spill his precious blood?  And canst thou find in thy heart to labour to lay more sins on his back?  Canst thou hear that he suffered the pains, the fiery flames of hell, and canst thou find in thy heart to add to his groans, by slighting of his sufferings?  Oh, hard hearted wretch!   How canst thou deal so unkindly with such a sweet Lord Jesus?

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