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Leviticus 7:1-38 - Homilies By R.m. Edgar

Ministerial support.

cf. 1 Corinthians 9:13 ; 1 Corinthians 10:18 . We have in this chapter a detailed account of the disposal of the offerings already referred to. The leading idea of the passage is the perquisites of the priests, and the Christian counterpart of this is ministerial support. And in this connection let us observe—

I. IN ALL THE OFFERINGS THE FIRST CONCERN WAS TO ALLOCATE TO GOD HIMSELF HIS DUE . In particular he had appropriated to his own use, that is, to manifest atonement, the blood of all the sacrifices; and consequently it was never to be eaten, for this would be a profane use of such a sacred thing ( 1 Corinthians 10:26 , 1 Corinthians 10:27 ). ]t is only when we come to the realities out of the types and shadows, that we find Jesus declaring, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood , hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" ( John 6:54 , John 6:55 ). Atoning blood can only be partaken of by faith. Moreover, the Lord appropriated the fat—the large amount of suet about the animal—which was absolutely necessary to feed. the fire. This was to be devoted, therefore, to this sacred use and withdrawn from all profane use. There were other portions, such as the sheep's tail, the kidneys, and the caul above the liver, which were burned always on the altar as God's portion. The general principle, therefore, is plain of first giving unto God his fine.

Now, in this particular question of ministerial support, it is with this idea of stewardship unto God that we must begin. Men rest first realize their obligation to God above before they will do justly by his ministers. The human obligation is best enforced by emphasizing the Divine. If men give God his due, if they are faithful stewards unto him, if they keep zealously the first table of the Law, they will not wrong their neighbours by disregarding the second table; above all, they will not wrong God's ministers.

II. AFTER GOD 'S PORTIONS WERE DEDICATED , THE BEST OF THE RESIDUE BECAME THE PRIESTS . In some cases the priest got the whole; for example, in a private sin offering or trespass offering, and when, as in the peace offerings, the remainder was shared with the person presenting the sacrifice, the priest's portion was always the best. The wave breast and the heave leg, the "choice cuts," as we would now call them, of the carcass, were assigned to the priests. In fact, there is peculiar generosity enjoined in supporting the officers of God.

There is a fashion in a business age of regarding the minister very much as an ecclesiastical tradesman, who is to be dealt with on business principles; that is, as ranch work is to be got out of him as possible for the minimum of pay. The sooner such poor notions cease, the better for the cause of God. "And we beseech you, brethren," says the apostle, "to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:12 , 1 Thessalonians 5:13 ). If ministers are rightly regarded, the people will feel it to be their duty, as Israel was instructed to do, to give them the best support they can.

III. A PROPERLY SUSTAINED PRIESTHOOD WAS IN A POSITION TO EXERCISE FAITHFUL DISCIPLINE IN THE CHURCH . This ministerial support chapter, as we may properly regard 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 , is most particular in debarring the unclean from Church privileges. Whether we are to understand the "cutting off from the people" as death, as the Vulgate appears to do, or as only excommunication, one thing is certain, that the priesthood, assigned its true dignity and supported accordingly, were thereby encouraged to be faithful in the exercise of discipline.

And this relation of proper ministerial support to Church discipline is most important. It is when the office is degraded in men's minds to a mere profession, and they consequently refuse it adequate support, that they are unwilling to submit to the discipline God's ministry should wield. To the elevation of the office in the eyes of men, and to the consequent increase of its support, all wise members of the Church of Christ should devote their attention.—R.M.E.

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