This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Pre-Sinaitic Sacrifices (Part 2)

If the patriarchal sacrifices were instituted by the Creator, it is reasonable to suppose that they were not positive and arbitrary requirements, with no hint of the reasons on which they were grounded — man’s dependence on omnipotent power and his exposure to offended justice. This revealed reason would involve the element of propitiation. But if sacrifices were the natural outgrowth of man’s religious nature — the expression of his deepest spiritual necessities — they must have had some reference to sin, the saddest fact in his consciousness. In either case, whether they were ordained of God or were spontaneous with man, the notion of expiation would not have been entirely absent.

At the same time it is reasonable to suppose that this idea was not distinct and prominent in the minds of the patriarchs, because the holiness of God had not yet been emphatically disclosed — that bright background on which the grim deformities of sin are portrayed. To the patriarchs God always turned the benignant and merciful side of his nature. He talks with Abraham as a friend, putting him quite at ease in his presence, and his wife laughs with incredulity while hearing the words of promise from the Lord’s lips. There is no inspiration of painful awe, no putting off the sandals to stand upon ground sanctified by the tread of the most holy Jehovah. From Adam to Moses there is no specific revelation of the holiness of the Supreme One. We look in vain in the book of Genesis, the record of patriarchal life, for the words holy and holiness as descriptive of the Divine character.

The hour for the revelation of this attribute did not arrive till the exiled Moses, at Horeb, turned aside from his flock to “see this great sight,” the bush burning yet not consumed. Exodus 3:3. The footsteps of the inquisitive Hebrew shepherd are suddenly arrested by the awful words, “Draw not nigh hither!” A new aspect of Jehovah’s nature is from this hour to be unfolded with ever-increasing splendour: “I am holy.” Sin having now, for the first time since the fall, its proper measure, becomes, by contrast, “exceeding sinful,” and needs to be purged from the conscience by blood distinctly expiatory.

We arrive at the same conclusion when we trace the history of man through the period in which he had only that internal sense of right and wrong called the unwritten law; which, indeed, constitutes him a subject of God’s moral government, and renders him amenable to the penalties of violated law, but is without that vivid apprehension of guilt which overwhelms his soul when that law, still legible within, takes on the form of an objective code written in stone by the finger of God amid the quakings of burning Horeb. Now, as never before, he regards himself as a sinner. “The law entered, that the offence might abound.” Romans 5:20. Now he needs relief from conscious guilt by a method of expiation bearing the unmistakable signature of his offended God. His forgiveness must be as authentically announced as his guilt has been glaringly demonstrated. Hence the provision for the typical purgation of the conscience is the logical sequence of the decalogue. Sinai has rendered the institution of the sin offering a necessity for the peace and salvation of the penitent sinner. 

Commentary on Leviticus.

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