AARON, the first and greatest high priest in the old covenant, was a type of JESUS, the great High Priest in the new covenant; and Aaron was the brother of Moses, by whom the law was given, and as well the brother of all the people of that covenant, whose high priest he was. As often as he entered within the second veil of the holy sanctuary with the atoning blood, to appear in the presence of the Lord, the twelve precious stones in his breastplate reflected the names of the twelve tribes of the people of Israel toward the mercy seat before him, while the two precious stones upon his shoulders also reflected their names heavenward, and all these were his brethren, no less than his fellow-citizens in that kingdom, and it was for their sins that he made the atoning sacrifice there in the presence of their covenant-Lord, and for them only he interceded. Being their brother, they were near and dear to him, and he could be touched with the feeling of their necessities and infirmities, because he was in this close relationship and sympathy with them. Moreover, they were not only his own near kindred in the flesh, but they were the people of the Lord his God, and their merciful God had ordained him their high priest, to appear in the Holy Presence and typically put away their sins. All this appointment, and the very constitution of this brotherhood, was of the Lord, for he had ordained it thus. This is instructive and very wonderful, for our God thus teaches his spiritual Israel a divine truth. For all this pointed to and was typical of the greater High Priest than Aaron, even "Jesus of Nazareth, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write," and dimly represented his diviner priesthood and priestly people.
For, as pointed out in the last chapter, the Son of David the king, as born of his blessed mother Mary, was Brother of all his people in the flesh, as well of the Gentiles as of the Jews; for his God and Father gave them all to him and him to them in the everlasting covenant of life, and ordained Christ and his people to be one in the covenant, one in the flesh, one in death, and one in life. Therefore, it is verily true that the holy Son of God is our Brother in the flesh on his mother's side, and we are his brethren in the Spirit of life on his Father's side. This blessed and divine reality is clearly revealed by the Spirit in the holy Scriptures, and witnessed in the hearts of the people of Christ's holy priesthood, after they are born of the Spirit. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Rom. VIII. 16. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Heb. II. 11, 12. This is the church that Christ loved, "and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Eph. V. 25, 26. So at the conquered grave, the newly risen Christ said to Mary: "But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." John XX. 17. Here our First-born Brother from the dead preciously owns his brotherhood with all his people, the children whom his Father gave him, and is not ashamed to call them brethren, notwithstanding he had passed through death and stood victorious on heaven's side of the grave, and they yet sorrowed on earth's side.
O, how highly favored are the people of God's covenant-mercy, since his exalted and glorified Son calls them, "My brethren!" "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John III. 1. While this sonship embraces sinful people of the Jews and Gentiles alike, it is in the sonship of the Son of man, and in his holy life and divine nature; for the sinless Jesus is "the only begotten Son of God," and in his life and righteousness only are we the sons of the Father who is holy. That the people whom the Father gave him in the perfect covenant should he made "The holy people," the holy Son of God came to them in the flesh and under the law; and thus is he their near kinsman and beloved Brother, and in him was the right of redemption. The noble and compassionate Boaz, the near kinsman of the widowed and impoverished Naomi, who represented the state of the Jews, and as betrothing Ruth unto himself, as representing the Gentiles, thus redeemed them both and made them rich, in which he is a beautiful type of our spiritual kinsman, of whom Paul says: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." 2 Cor. VIII. 9.
It was thus, as the Son of man in the flesh of his people, that the holy Son of God was one with them under the law, and therefore lawfully and righteously represented them as in covenant and life union with them, so that their sins were righteously imputed to him, and his righteousness likewise was theirs in and with him as his brethren and members. This is divinely and wonderfully true and comforting, because in no other way could sinners be saved and made holy. It is this sacred and endearing oneness with our Beloved that makes him so unspeakably dear and precious to every humble believer in him; for he is our All-in-all. It was in these sacred bonds that Isaiah said of the holy Lamb of God, "and he was numbered with the transgressors," and that Paul said, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. V. 21.
God did this in his infinite holiness and wisdom; therefore Peter said of Christ, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God." 1 Peter 1. 20, 21. So Paul also: "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, bat to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." 1 Thess. V. 9, 10. So the death of Christ for his people was according to this appointment of God, which proves that he died righteously, and in his death fulfilled all righteousness, made an end of sin, abolished death in its sting and power over his people, and brought life and immortality to light in his resurrection unto God and glory. He did this as our Brother and for his brethren. The sufferings unto death of the Anointed man Christ in the flesh were because of his sacred relations to his people, whom he should save from their sins; therefore he neither represented nor died for any others. In the absence of this brotherhood that made Christ and all his people one, as Head and body and members, his death could not have fulfilled the righteousness of the law for them, nor put away their sins; because he would not have had the just right to redeem them, neither could the righteous claims of the divine law against every transgressor have involved him with and for them. This principle is established in equity, and it obtains as well in nature as in grace, for the just God has so ordained it. And because this is true, the atonement of the holy Redeemer is necessarily special, and it could not possibly be general or universal. For, before there could be the imputation of our sins to the sinless man Christ, or the imputation of his perfect holiness to us, he must he one with us and we one with him. No truth is more clearly revealed in the inspired testimony than this, and it is only in this sacred and divine union with him who is righteousness and life that "ye are complete in him which is the head of all principality and power." It is because God ordained that "they two shall be one flesh," that the husband is justly obligated with and for the wife in law, and his payment of her debts justifies and acquits her equally with him. Without this union and unity, he could not be justly held to satisfy any law for her. It is so with straying and trespassing sheep; for the shepherd and owner only is under a lawful obligation for them, just because they are his. "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep," is the precious word of Jesus. For no others did he give his life, neither could he righteously do so, and for the sheep only because the Father gave them him and they were his. "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." "The one thing needful, dearest Lord, is to be one with thee."
It is most wonderful and blessed that the "One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," is at once one with his brethren and his Father! And because he is, he raises them above sin and death and uplifts them to his Father, and to their Father! In view of this, a poet sang:
"Halt sacred union, firm and strong!
How great the grace, how sweet the song!
That worms of earth should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!"
But our present consideration is, the grace that brought Christ down to us, in touch and sympathy with us in our sinful estate of suffering and death in the flesh. In Psalms XL, David testifies that the Lord went down to him in a horrible pit, brought him up out of it, set his feet upon a rock, established his goings, and put a new song in his mouth. Of the priesthood of our compassionate Redeemer, another say "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like u to his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Heb. II. 17, 18. Thus it is shown that the people of this priestly covenant are also the brethren of their High Priest, and that, as merciful and faithful, a sacred obligation was upon him to bow the heavens and come down to them, and be made like them in all things; for otherwise he could not have suffered and died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring them to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. As distinct from his people in the flesh, who were appointed of God to be "an holy priesthood," Christ could not have suffered and died for them, neither could they have been washed and purified from their sins. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Heb. II. 14. Thus and in this way only was Christ qualified, clothed and consecrated unto the office-work of the ordained High Priest of the people for whose sins he should atone, and who should be his brethren and royal priesthood for ever. For they are the children of men in the flesh, sinful and under the sentence of death; for this cause the Redeemer must himself be a sinless and perfect man in the flesh, and as a man obey the law for them, suffer its sentence of death against them, fulfill it, redeem them from its just and fearful curse, by being made a curse for them, then, rising up out of death, destroy it and the devil; for in no other way was it possible for him to reach them, or for them to rise up out of death, living and holy, and be with him as his sanctified and holy brethren and priesthood, to praise God forever. O how awfully solemn and dreadful was all this on the part of the dear Son of man!