JEHOVAH [Yahweh] (that is, I shall be, Ehyeh , Exod. 3:15) said to Moses, "See that thou make what thou wast caused to see, after their pattern shewed thee in the mount" (Exod. 25:40); which things, Paul says, are only "the image and shadow of heavenly things", (Heb. 8:5) as God said to Moses: and elsewhere he says that the Jews have the model of the knowledge and of the truth in the law". (Rom. 2:20) From which, and other passages that can be adduced, it is evident that the following proposition is true, namely, That the Mosaic System of Righteousness is symbolical of the Righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Definition . -- By "Mosaic System of Righteousness" is meant, All that was necessary to sanctify to the purifying of the flesh , but which could not free the conscience from sin. To impart this carnal purification to the worshipper a High Priest and his household, distinct from the other classes of the Jewish nation, legally inaugurated and sanctified, were, necessary; also a tabernacle, sacrifices, washings, etc.
Definition . -- By the "Righteousness of God" (Rom. 1:17; 3:21) is meant, A justification from all past sins devised and enjoined by God -- a purification of the heart, or conscience, without the necessity of obeying the law of Moses (which since the destruction of Jerusalem cannot be kept) but attested by that law and the prophets -- a justification through Jesus Christ's faith ( dia pisteos Iesou Christou ): that is, through belief of what he and his apostles preached concerning the Kingdom of God and his Name (Acts 8:12); in other words, through belief of the Gospel to all that shall put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). The "Righteousness of God" is the "Gospel of the Kingdom", sometimes called "the gospel of Christ", and often simply "the gospel", which Paul says, "is the power of God for salvation of every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek", (Rom. 1:14-16) or Gentile. Nothing can save Jew or Gentile but "the power of God". The power for that special purpose is the gospel only; so that saving power and the gospel are but different phrases for the same thing.
Look into these sayings narrowly -- "Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9); "If ye love me, keep my commandments"; (John 14:15) "If a man love me, he will keep my words"; (John 14:23) "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you"; (John 15:14) "He that rejecteth me, and keepeth not my words ... the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day"; (John 12:48) Love is the fulfilling of the law". (Rom. 13:10) Hence, love and obedience in scripture language are but two words for the same idea, or thing; so that God in Jesus Christ admits of no love, or professions of devotion; and attachment, that are unaccompanied with a child-like obedience to "whatsoever" He commands. Where obedience is not, there love does not exist; and where there is no scriptural love there is no obedience in word or deed and where these are absent the spirit of love, which is "the spirit of Christ", (1 Pet. 1:11) is wanting. "Love suffers long, and is kind; it envieth not; it boasts not itself (not full of wordy professions): is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly; seeketh not its own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil: rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
To persons in whom such a disposition has been created, the precepts of Jesus are, He who believeth the Gospel of the kingdom, and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth it not shall be condemned. (Mark 16:16) Here the gospel is that proposed for faith; and baptism, the thing prescribed for obedience, that the believer may show or prove whether that faith hath worked in him a true and genuine love to its author. Baptism is only for such believers; for baptism is "the obedience of faith"; (Rom. 16:26) so that where belief of "the truth" does not exist, there can be no true obedience.
When Jesus came to John he demanded to be buried in water that he might come out of it an immersed man. With a view to this he said, "Thus (in this way) it is proper for us to fulfil all righteousness"; and the apostle adds, "When he was baptized, he went up straightway from the water"; clearly evincing that he must first have gone down into it. And now, mark this well: After he had done this , God acknowledged him as His Son, and declared himself well pleased with him (Matt. 3:13-17). Jesus had been God's most excellent Son for thirty years, but He withheld His acknowledgment of him till he commenced a course of obedience in being baptized.
Jesus was a Jew under the law of Moses. When therefore he spoke of the "all righteousness" to be "fulfilled", he spoke of the necessity of doing what was signified by the propheto-symbolic institutions of the Mosaic Law.
Jesus, being the Anointed Seed long promised of God, was therefore the High Priest who was to arise after the similitude, likeness, or order of Melchizedec, and to sit upon his throne as a priest upon his throne, and to bear the glory (Zech. 6). This being so, he would have at some future time to occupy the place formerly held by Aaron; and as the Aaronic inauguration was representative of the Melchizedec, Jesus had to be consecrated after the same example or type, that in so doing he might antitypically fulfil the representation of the law.
Aaron was forbidden to enter into the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle without being adorned with garments of holiness, and therefore styled, "Holy Garments". Nor was he permitted to enter even when habited with these, unless he had been previously baptized , upon pain of death. The law said "He shall wash his flesh in water, and so put them on". (Lev. 16:4) He was not permitted to officiate as high priest in his ordinary attire. He must "put off" this, and "put on" the holy linen robe; and had he put this on without bathing his flesh in water, and proceeded to officiate, this unbaptized High Priest of Israel would have been struck with death. When legally invested and arrayed the Aaronic High Priests were "Holiness to Jehovah" (Ex. 28:36; 39:30) and the representatives of the Holy and just One in his character and priestly office; though oftentimes, as in the case of Caiaphas, by practice unjust and wicked men. The symbolism relative to the high priest was the "righteousness" to be fulfilled by Jesus before he could enter upon his functions by "the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7:16) as High Priest, first over the Household of God, and afterwards over the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
John the baptizer, a greater prophet than Moses (Luke 7:28), but not so great as Jesus, preached and administered "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins". (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) Jesus came to him to be baptized of this baptism; for as Moses baptized Aaron and his sons, so the greatest of all the prophets was appointed to baptize Jesus and his brethren. But some may object that Jesus had no sins to be remitted, and had no need of repentance, and was therefore not a fit subject for such a baptism. It is admitted without reserve that he had no sins of his own, having never transgressed the law: nevertheless, as the Sin-Bearer of the Abrahamic Covenant through whom it was confirmed (Rom. 16:8), Jehovah (Yahweh) made the iniquity of all "the children of that covenant" to meet upon him, that by his bruise they might be healed (Isa. 53:5,6). He was not the Sin-Bearer of every son of Adam that ever lived; but of the true believers from Abel to the Day of Pentecost, and of the obedient believers of the truth consItuting his Household, separated by "the obedience of faith", (Rom. 16:26) from Pentecost in the year of the crucifixion to his future appearing in Jerusalem; and of the living Twelve Tribes when their transgressions shall be blotted out as a thick cloud at their ingrafting into their own Olive Tree; and of that family of nations of which Abraham is the constituted father when they are made righteous; so that the sins of the whole of that world, which shall dwell upon the earth in the postmillennial eternal ages, and which will all of it have been separated from Adam's race by "the obedience of faith" -- will have met upon him, and been borne away into everlasting oblivion.
But to return. Jesus, with the sin of the world thus defined rankling in his flesh, where it was to be condemned to death when suspended on the cross (Rom. 8:3), came to John as the "Ram of Consecration", that his inwards and his body might be washed according to the law (Exod. 29:17,22). But these representations of the law and the prophets could not have found their antitype in Jesus, if in the days of his flesh he had possessed a holier or purer nature than those for whom he was bruised in the heel. His character was spotless; but as being the Seed of the Woman, of whom no clean flesh can be born (Job 25 : 4), and Seed of Abraham, which is not immaculate, be it Virgin or Nazarite, his nature was flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14), which Paul styles "sinful flesh", (Rom. 8:3) or flesh full of sin, a physical quality or principle which makes the flesh mortal; and called "sin", because this property of flesh became its law as the consequence of transgression. "God made Jesus sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
In this view of the matter, the Sin-Bearer of the world indicated was a fit and proper subject of John's baptism of repentance for remission of sins. The holy and undefiled disposition of Mary's Son was granted to him for repentance in fulfilling the symbolical righteousness of the law when he descended into the Jordan to enter into the antitypical robe of righteousness with which he must of necessity be invested before he could enter into the Most Holy as High Priest after the order of Melchizedec. In being baptized he commenced the development of a character distinguished by perfect faith and obedience. This character was his holy raiment, and was without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This was the "fine linen, clean and white" with which he arrayed himself; or "the righteousness of the (king of) saints" (Rev. 19:8). It was the antitype in part of Aaron's holy garments; and he had to put it on in the same way that Aaron did, "by washing his flesh in water, and so putting it on". (See Lev. 16:4) He was baptized of John into a holiness of his own, which began with obedience in the Jordan, and ended with obedience in death on the cross. "He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that every tongue should confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:8-11) Had Jesus yielded to John (supposing the thing to have been possible), he would have stood before his nation as the High Priest of Israel, claiming to officiate in the Most Holy Place without baptism, a spectacle it had never seen before, nor ever will while the world stands.
But the symbolic righteousness of the Mosaic law not only required the High Priest to put on the holy vestments by having his body baptized, but it also commanded his Household to be baptized into theirs also. The law reads thus: "This is the thing Jehovah [Yahweh] commanded to be done: and Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. And he put upon Aaron the coat ... and he put coats upon his sons, and girded them with girdles, and put turbans upon them, as Jehovah [Yahweh] commanded" (Lev. 8:5,6,13;16:4). Here, as I have said, Moses performed the part of John the baptizer to Aaron and his sons, who were to be rulers and priests in Israel. Aaron and his family were their nation's priestly household; and it was the office of the High, or Chief, Priest to make atonement, or reconciliation, first for himself , then for his household , and lastly, for all the congregation of Israel; but admission into the Holy and Most Holy places was only permitted to the baptized; they must bathe their flesh in water and so put on the holy garments. Hence, all Israel's priests were immersed persons; and so also all that shall be their priests and kings in the Age to Come, and have power over the Gentiles, must be immersed likewise. Jesus, the Melchizedec High Priest of Israel, has a Household as well as Aaron had. A proof of this is found in the words of Paul. In writing to certain Hebrews who had believed the ,,gospel of the kingdom and name of Jesus, and had obeyed it in having their " bodies washed with pure water he says, " Christ is a Son over his own house, whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope (Acts 28 : 20 ; 26 : 6, 7) firm unto the end" (Heb. 3 : 6, 14). Now, Jesus speaking for himself and others said, " Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness ") It is therefore necessary for all " his house " to do as he did, but with this modification of the significancy of the deed, namely, - he was baptized as the initiative of his own holiness, sacrificial and priestly ; they must be baptized into his and into a development of their own conformable to his ; and with this induction for a beginning, thenceforth " continue patiently in well doing that they may be holy as he was holy in the days of his flesh as it is written," Be ye holy, because I am holy".
Jesus and his Household are the future kings and priests prepared of God to rule Israel and the Nations for Him, The law and the prophets which attest the righteousness of God require them all to put on that righteousness by bathing. Jesus commands the same thing, and says, " Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ." Therefore he said to his apostles, " Go and preach the Gospel to every creature ;" and " teach them who receive your proclamation to observe whatsoever I command you ."
By virtue of this saying the apostles became the depositaries of his commands ; so that in the words of Jesus, " He that heareth them, heareth him ; and he that despiseth them, despiseth him and he that despiseth him, despiseth Him that sent him Now, Peter, who was one of these plenipotentiaries of Christ, commanded Cornelius, " a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house ; and gave much alms to the people (Israel), and prayed to God daily " ," Peter, I say, " commanded " this company of pious Gentiles, who believed the word Jesus began to preach in Galilee, " to be baptized in the name of the Lord ." The apostolic style of address was, " Children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent". A man's supposed piety did not exempt him from the necessity of believing and obeying the gospel of the kingdom, or, .as Paul styles it, " the word of this salvation " Peter went to Caesarea to tell pious, god-fearing men, " words whereby they should be saved
But, however pious they may be who are ignorant of these saving words, they are alienated from the life of God through that ignorance (Eph- 4 : 18). Piety in general has so little to do with an understanding of the word of the kingdom and the obedience it enjoins, that it has passed into a proverb that " ignorance is the mother of devotion ". In a certain sense this is true. The most ignorant are for the most part the most pious, and the most intolerant of the truth and its obedience. This is Pharisaism, whether it flourish in the first, or in the nineteenth century ; and in reference to which Jesus has said, " Except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of the heavens " Pharisaists " appear to men to be righteous " ; but men uninstructed in the gospel of the kingdom are incompetent to distinguish the counterfeit from the true. A man in this century will have no more ability to enter the kingdom of the heavens, if his righteousness exceed not that of contemporary churchmen of the straitest sect, than would those addressed by Jesus whose righteousness might be on a par with the pietists of his age.
Shall it be said that it was necessary for the Melchizedec High Priest, who was innocent of transgression, and who for thirty years had enjoyed the favour of God and man, to be immersed in a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins ; but that it is not necessary for the pious who would compose his household, who are sinners by nature and practice ? Nay, if it were indispensable for Jesus to be buried in water that he might begin a career of holiness to Jehovah in coming up out of it, it is definitely more so that all should tread in his steps of perfect faith and obedience who would be invested with " robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb ," having their loins girt around with the girdle of truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness ; and their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace ; and on their heads the helmet of salvation. An immersed High Priest requires an immersed household. There is one law for both, as there was one baptism for Jesus and his apostles ; on whom as upon all others of the household, the necessity is imperative to fulfil all righteousness foreshadowed in Aaron and his sons. There is no discharge from this necessity for Jew or Gentile for thus it behoveth us to fulfil all righteousness".