sermon: The Sacrifices of Leviticus (Part 2)
The Burnt Offering
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 01-Mar-97; Sermon #279; 68 minutes
The Levitical sacrifices were neither insignificant, primitive nor barbaric, but a carefully devised teaching tool or vehicle, providing us an example after which to pattern our lives. In the burnt offering, we see Christ in His work for the already redeemed. Four things which make the burnt offering distinct:(1) It had a sweet savor- not a symbol of sin.(2) It was offered for acceptance in the stead of the offerer. (3) A life was given. (4) It was completely burned up- the head, legs, and fat- representing a sinless life given totally in devotion and service to God.
Atonement Brazen altar Burnt offering Christ as object Daily sacrifice Destiny Digging Duality Emblems Figures Giving up flesh Gospel-different facets Hidden information Human nature Instruction Life Living sacrifice service Marble lessons Offerer Perfect life Profane Teaching vehicle Trespass Types Whole burnt Work of ministry out salvation
At the introduction of this series, we were reminded that God frequently creates things like air and water that perform a multitude of functions, and that these functions do not become apparent until we stop taking them for granted and begin to examine these things that God has created more closely.
God's Word is just as much a creation of His as are water and air. His Word has, in many cases, a multitude of applications that are very valuable to our understanding. I think that we all know that there are types, there are symbols, there are figures, there are emblems, and there are allegories that are scattered throughout the Bible, and this in turns leads us to understand some of the principles of duality, and also to understand that there is a great deal more contained within God's Word than might appear on the surface once we begin to understand this principle.
In that sermon we also saw in Galatians 4:31 that Paul drew attention to this very factor when he said, "Do you not hear the law?" And then he referred to the story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac, showing that it was more than just a simple narrative that continued a story, but at one and the same time it was also an allegory teaching about liberty and bondage.
I want us to turn to a scripture that I used the last time. I think it is important enough to begin to see why we need to do certain things.
Psalm 119:17-18 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
Many times I have mentioned to you that we should not restrict the word law strictly to things like commandments, statutes, and judgments unless the context demands it. More frequently than not, the word means general instruction rather than a specific command. It means both, but most times it means general instruction.
What God has done in writing the Bible—in the same manner as He has created other things—is He has created a device whereby He is able to cram a great deal more information into much smaller space than if He had designed a separate instruction for each and every category. But one result of this which concerns us is that these things are not on the surface—they must be dug for.
This two-verse section here was a prayer asking that as the servant (the person who wrote the psalm) dug, that God would reveal. So he is asking God's help in finding these hidden treasures. He doesn't merely ask for information, but also that he may live. He was already alive, so live has a different connotation to it than just merely being alive. He wanted a quality to life. He wanted to live abundantly and he wanted to live eternally—endlessly. He understood that much of the means to that end was contained within God's Word and that he was going to be required to dig for it, and also is going to require the help of God—His inspiration, by means of His Spirit for that to take place.
These things are instructions to you and me, and we should understand that we need to follow this same general practice as this person did, and know that there is a great deal of hidden information in God's Word, but it will be revealed by Him if we will dig for it—make the effort to find it. This is a godly request, so I think that we can be confident that if we do our part, God will do His part, because it is going to go a long way toward fulfilling His purpose in us. But never forget: we must dig.
In the sermon a couple of weeks ago we read Romans 8:28-29, but I want to read it again because it is so clear what God's purpose for us is.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Notice the qualifications there. Things work out for good for those who love God, and those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknow [that refers back to the previous verse—those who love God and are called according to His purpose], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [our destiny], that He [the Son] might be the firstborn among many brethren.
That was the goal of the psalmist, that he might live in that Family eternally. We also saw in that sermon that Christ is the object of very much of what is written in the Bible. We applied it specifically to the law. Since we are to be in His image, and He is the object of these things, we can then begin to find clear instruction as to what we are supposed to do. What we are supposed to do, if we are going to end up like Him, is to strive to our utmost to live like He did, to do the things that He did, as long as within the framework of our lives that they apply. He is that object in terms of what we are to aim for in the way that we live our lives, so that God's purpose can be fulfilled in our lives. So, the teachings of God describe Christ.
Another couple of carryover verses that I think are good and necessary for establishing a foundation before we go on, are back in the book of Hebrews in chapters 9 and 10. Here we pick up on the principle where the Bible shows us very clearly that there are types, figures, emblems, symbols, and whatever, in it.
Hebrews 9:1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
This is a carnal physical sanctuary. There is the subject.
Hebrews 9:8-9 The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All [into the very presence of God] was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle [I can add here, too, the temple] was still standing. It was a symbolic [type, emblem] for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience.
If the sacrifices and offerings and gifts and so forth could not make a person perfect, why even have them? Well, the answer is so that examples could be set for us so that there would be object lessons that we could look at and even go through ourselves—things that would lead us to the reality.
Hebrews 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
Those things not only served the purpose, they continue to serve a purpose. Now all I need for proof of that is Romans 15:4 where Paul said that "whatever things were written before were written for our learning." Those things back there were done primarily, not for those people at that time, but for you and me. It was for us. Now the second scripture is in verse 11 of I Corinthians 10, where he says virtually the same thing.
I Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them for examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. [That is you and me.]
Therefore we can reach a conclusion that I hope hits home, which is that the sacrificial offerings of Leviticus were not insignificant. Tell me something: Is any word of God, any word, insignificant? They were neither insignificant, primitive, nor barbaric. They were a carefully devised teaching tool—a creation of God, to those under the Old Covenant who looked forward to the full revelation of the object of God's law, and to those of us who are under the New Covenant who look back on it and are striving to make the spiritual application. In other words, those things had a spiritual application to you and me. God's intent all along was that they be a teaching vehicle.
Notice in that verse, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come. . ." See, it has it right now. It is present tense. Those things were written for the New Testament, New Covenant church; not that we have to go through the ceremonies, but we do have to learn the spiritual lesson that is there. So they are still a shadow. They are still a teaching vehicle. In order for there to be a shadow, there must be a reality, and the reality is the life and death of Jesus Christ, and it is this reality that we are to strive to follow as closely as we can. As Paul put it, "Dear children. . . ," there in Ephesians 5:2, so that we can be a sweet savor to God.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Two things I want you to remember. Paul said that he was crucified with Christ, and that Christ loved him and gave Himself for him.
I Corinthians 15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
That "I die daily" can be taken in two ways. Within the immediate context, he means that his life was in jeopardy every day. He meant literally. This was not figuratively. He explained some of that earlier in I Corinthians when he told about all of the things that he had gone through in order to serve the church. That is one application. The other has a connection to the crucifixion motif, and that is day by day he was dying in terms of some of his flesh, as it were, was being spiritually cut away as a living sacrifice in overcoming and growing.
When you put these two verses together, Paul is showing that there is a parallel between Christ's course and ours. "We are crucified with Christ; but nevertheless. . ." Here the parallel separates. He died. We live. We live only in order that we might die daily. It had to be done in this manner. Someone had to die for our sins in order that our sins could be forgiven, in order that there might be access to the throne of God, in order that we might have the Spirit of God, in order that we might be created in the image of God. This also requires that we make the choices to give up the flesh day by day.
So when Christ was crucified, it was as though we were crucified, and thus all of our sins are paid in full. You see, the parallel does not end there. Every time that we obey God's instructions as part of the purpose of God, rather than unresistingly following the dictates of human nature, we are sacrificing ourselves to God and His purpose as a living sacrifice. And so we are to strive to live even as He lived, and thus the daily sacrifice (remember the Old Covenant, the Old Testament daily sacrifice) continues, only it is now spiritual in nature.
All of this serves a purpose, and that is, because the way we are when God calls us, we are like a hunk of raw marble. We do not look very much like Christ at all and we need to be sculpted, we need to be created. The analogy of the piece of marble ends there because we can resist (marble cannot) because we have will and because we have human nature. So our participation in what God is creating—His holy and righteous spiritual character in us—is something that requires that we make choices and that we die daily.
In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us why God gave the ministry:
Ephesians 4:12 For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
I can interject something here. The King James did not translate a portion of this well. Where it says "for the work of the ministry," it should be translated "for the work of ministry." That word "the" is not in the Greek. Ministry is service, that is all. So we are being perfected for the work of service—service to God and service to each other. He gave the ministry for the edifying, up-building, of the body of Christ .
Ephesians 4:13-15 Till we all come in the unity of the faith [it is obvious that we are not in unity yet] and of the knowledge of the Son of God [we have to come to know God], to a perfect man [complete, mature. It does not mean without flaw, but it does mean grown up, mature.], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head—Christ.
So the intent of all of this, all of this which was written beforehand, is that we grow up into Him.
Now at this point in this series of sermons we are going to be looking primarily at the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering. So instead of seeing Christ as redeeming us from sin—this is an important distinction—we see Him in His work for the already redeemed. There are five chapters at the beginning of the book of Leviticus. Five different offerings are described: the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the trespass offering, and the sin offering.
I that we are going to be paying attention mostly to the burnt offering, and secondarily, the meal offering and the peace offering. Right at the very beginning, I want you to understand that the lesson for us here is, this is not Christ redeeming us by dying for our sins; it is Christ doing work for those who are already redeemed. So it is not in His help in bringing us out of Egypt, but rather showing us how to live our lives so that we stay out.
You remember the story of Israel in the wilderness. Those people kept wanting to go back to Egypt, and if you have any awareness of your own nature, it sneaks up on you. It is with us constantly and it is constantly trying to pull us back to what we were before. And so all the way on the journey through our pilgrimage to the Promised Land, somebody has to be going to bat for us as we go along.
There is more to this, though. He is working to show us how to live so that we stay out of Egypt, and also how to keep us in happy fellowship with God. In other words, it is broad instruction on how to keep from sin, and how to please God, because sin separates from God, and we want to constantly go forward and be tighter with Him.
These attitudes and the conduct that is shown in the offerings prepared Him to be our Redeemer. If He had not lived what the offerings showed us, He never would have been our Redeemer. In living the way the offerings show us, He sets us a pattern for how we ought to live. If we try to run our course as parallel to Christ's as we possibly can and try to do it the way He did it in attitude and conduct, there is no doubt that we will be prepared for the Kingdom of God.
Even though Christ is being described, please do not allow yourself to be separated from this, because they are instructions for us. The example is for us. And so, step by step, we are going to see Christ in the sacrifices as the offering; we are going to see Him as the offerer; and we are going to see Him as the priest. We cannot conform to every type, but we can conform to that which applies to us, and that is what we want to do.
When we see Him as the offerer, we see Christ as a person, as a man who comes offering Himself. As the offering, we see Christ in His character—the perfect man. We see Him in His work. We also see Him as the victim—the one who is slain. As a priest we see Him in His relationship as it is today with us. Each one of these distinctions has meaning that is very rich.
Here we have another example of how Christ has designed something that has numerous facets to it. There is another example of this that I think that you are probably maybe even more familiar with, and that is the four gospel accounts. Each one of the accounts is the same, and yet different. It is very much like looking at a house that has four sides. Maybe the front side faces north, the next side faces east, the backside faces south, and the other side faces west. Now you stand in front of the north side, and then go to the east side, and you tell very quickly that it looks different, does it not? Yet it is the same building. You go to the south side and it looks different yet; and yet it is the same building. You go to the west side and it is the same building, but it still looks different from what it did on the other three sides.
Thus it is with the four gospel accounts. Each one of them is presenting the same man—Christ—but each one of them is looking at Him from a different perspective, and so different things are emphasized. For instance, Matthew presents Him as the son of Abraham, as the son of David. He is therefore saying in his presentation, "This is the Messiah. This is the King."
Mark is entirely different. He may mention Christ as King, or coming King, but his emphasis is primarily on showing Christ as a tireless worker—a servant to the church, laboring from morning to night, always being accessible to people, whether it is His own people or the people that He was preaching to.
Luke shows a slightly different angle to it. He shows Jesus as the son of Adam—the man, suffering in Gethsemane, bleeding blood. He is the only one that has things like that. He shows Christ as weak, like a man would be, and needing help.
John puts the coup de grace on it, and he shows Jesus as God in the flesh. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and everything was made by Him." And so you meet Christ in the book of John with all power, and when He gets to the crucifixion, He does not need any help—He is helping everybody, and He is power unleashed. When they come to arrest Him and He says "I am Jesus,"—whoof! They all fall over.
Same man, different perspective. That is the way the offerings are. The offerings show us different aspects of the life of Christ, especially in terms—in this case with the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering—of the way that He lived. So we see the same One who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John also wrote this. He followed the design, He followed the pattern that He established way back there.
Now let us go back to the book of Leviticus and in chapter 1, the first four verses.
Leviticus 1:1-4 Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.'"
This one is commonly called the burnt offering. Sometimes it is called the whole burnt offering. The reason the "whole" is added is because there are other offerings that are burned on the altar, but in this one only, the whole animal is burned on the altar. This offering represents Christ—or in parallel, us—completely, wholeheartedly devoted to God. This is what we are to strive for—completely, wholeheartedly devoted to God.
It has four things about it that make it distinctive from the others. It is the only one of the offerings that has all four of these together, so this makes it different.
1) It is a sweet savor to God, and what that indicates is that this offering is not given because of sin. There is no sin seen in this offering. If it was a sin offering, it would be repulsive to God.
2) It is offered for acceptance in the stead of the offerer. In other words, the animal represents the offerer.
3) A life was given. In the meal offering for example, no life was given. So that makes it different.
4) It was completely burned up. In the case of the meal offering, it was not completely burned up. In the case of the peace offering, it was not completely burned up. But in the case of the burnt offering—the whole burnt offering—every part of the animal was burned up, except for the blood, which was dashed around the altar.
Let us go back to that verse in Ephesians 5. I just want to touch on it, because we see that Paul draws upon this in order to give some spiritual instruction. Of course it draws our attention to the offering.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. [Christ is God. Follow Him.] And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
That language used there lets us know that he is not talking about Christ's crucifixion. But just the same, Christ also has loved us and has given Himself for us. Because of what He did, it was a sweet savor to God. He enjoyed it. He took satisfaction in it. It did not repulse Him.
Now what I want to draw our attention to here is that Christ not only gave Himself to us in sacrifice in the crucifixion, He also gave Himself for us in the way, in the manner, in the style, in the conduct, in the attitude that He lived His life. In other words, He was a sacrifice from the "get-go." He lived His entire life as a sacrifice, not just at the end. That is where the book of Mark fills in. He was the tireless, patient, laboring worker. His entire life was devoted to God from beginning to end. We will show that a little bit more specifically a little bit later.
Three of the offerings were sweet. Two were not. The two that were not were the trespass offering and the sin offering. The sweet savor offerings were burned on the brazen altar, the others were burned outside the camp. The trespass offering and the sin offering were so repulsive to God, it is like He did not want to have anything to do with it. He said, "Get it away from Me. Go outside the city and destroy it."
But with these offerings, representing the way that He lived His life—not the way He died, but the way He lived His life—it pleased God and He wanted more of it. So there is no sin seen in the sweet savor offerings. They were completely voluntary as they pertained to the individual Israelite. In other words, an Israelite did not have to give these offerings. They were voluntary. It was up to him. There was no penalty seen in it. It was just a sweet offering.
Is God twisting your arm? Is He forcing you to obey? There is no doubt that He puts the pressure on us in terms of (mostly) our conscience. Psychologically, He puts us between a rock and a hard place in trial, and He manipulates events to lead us. Remember, the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth, not boot us into it, not force us into it. Our making of the right choices is voluntary. These offerings were voluntary, and because these were voluntary, I can guarantee you that Christ volunteered to the Father, saying, "I will go. I will be the sacrifice." Nobody had to twist His arm. He did it because He loved us. He loved His creation, and so He did it.
I am going through these familiar scriptures because I want you to see the connection between what is back here. Things like this make the Old Testament come alive spiritually; not physically so much, —spiritually. We can see that God put these things in here for our spiritual benefit.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
My margin says "rational." Some Bibles say "spiritual" service. There is nothing unreasonable about what God is asking us to do in being a living sacrifice. Remember, our Savior did it, and if we are going to be in His image, we are going to have to walk a path that is parallel to His, as much as it applies.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world. . .
This world has not been designed after God's way.
Romans 12:2 . . . but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
So Christ, in the burnt offering, is not appearing as our sin bearer, but He is going even further than that, if that is possible, and doing something that is so pleasing. The character of it is so satisfying to God that it is sweet. There is not a bitter, sour thing in it. It is the way that He lived His life. It says that "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends." The context clearly indicates in living service the sacrifice was made; not as a crucifixion.
We are making our way back to Leviticus 1, but I want to stop off in Malachi 1 just to pick up a verse here. The whole first chapter is about the Levites profaning the offerings of Leviticus by not following the instructions that were given to them, relative to their responsibilities. This attitude passed on to the people, and they followed the poor example of the ministry, and they were bringing offerings that were not really qualified to be offerings. In verse 12 God is speaking. He says:
Malachi 1:12 "But you [meaning first and foremost the priests, and then secondarily the people as well] profane it, in that you say, 'The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.'"
The connection here is this: In the offerings of Leviticus, the brazen altar, where the sacrifices were burned, was symbolically seen as God's table—where He was eating. The thought is that the offering is God's food—like this is what strengthens Him, energizes Him, and satisfies Him. So the altar is God's table, and so whatever is put upon it is food. All of you, except for those people who maybe cannot smell, know how good food smells when it is cooking. What the sweet savor offerings represent is something that really pleases God, as though He is hungry for it—like He is a worker coming in after spending a whole day out in the field, and He is hungry, and He hits the house and He smells something so good—roast beef! That is the picture, only in this case it is not really food, it is the way people live. It is so good He can taste it!
Back to Leviticus 1. We are going to read verses 3 and 4 again.
Leviticus 1:3-4 'If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.'
There is an alternate translation to that phrase "of his own voluntary will," and it can be translated "for his acceptance." Later on when you are studying, you can look in Leviticus 23:11 and that exact same phrase is translated in the King James "for his acceptance." It can also mean "in his stead."
In other words, the offering is given in the stead of, in the place of the offerer. The offerer remains alive. The animal represents him. In this aspect, Christ becomes even more visible, and we fade into the background, but we are not entirely invisible, because every man's acceptance before God depends upon perfect righteousness. I will tell you, this is awesome, because we are not perfectly righteous, but yet we are accepted into God's presence even though we are literally not perfectly righteous. This is why I said Christ comes to the foreground, we fade into the background, because we are accepted in terms of the burnt offering on the basis of the way Christ lived His life—not ours.
Oftentimes in prayer we will say, "We come to You, Holy Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ." It is not just the way He died, it is the way He lived. If He had not lived the way He lived, then the way He died would have been of no consequence at all. First things first. The perfect life came first and qualified for Him to be the sacrifice.
What Jesus did is that He came born of a woman. He took on Him the same flesh and blood of the seed of Abraham, and He lived a perfect life. His perfect life was acceptable to God, and so God accepted His life, and by God's grace we are accepted because of Christ. That is why this offering has to be without blemish. "Offer a male without blemish." We are then accepted before God on the basis of His sacrifice, but this does not absolve us of our duty to live as close as perfectly to Christ's example as we can. That is our duty. If we do not make the effort to do that, then we do what it says there in Hebrews 10, "We crucify the Son of God afresh and make Him an open shame, and we trample Him under foot."
What Christ did helps explain the word atonement. See that in verse 4? "Accepted for him to make atonement for him." Now normally we think of this word in the sense of a covering for sin, but there is no sin seen in these offerings here. Rather, what we see is a perfectly lived life, totally devoted to God. So reaching the conclusion that he's talking about sin would be a wrong conclusion. It would be incorrect.
But there is a very logical and true explanation, and that is that the word atonement indicates making satisfaction. Is God only satisfied by death for sin? The answer to that is absolutely not. That is what this offering is teaching us. There is something that satisfies Him even more. He says He does not want to see the death of the wicked. That does not bring Him pleasure at all, and I am sure that in one sense the sacrifice of His Son did not please Him one bit either, because His Son became sin for us, and so that was, as it were, the death of the wicked—all of them piled on His head. In one sense, there was nothing more abominable that ever got into this universe than that—when all the sins of mankind were piled upon Him.
There is something that satisfies God, and that is meeting our duty. This atonement then is that Christ's life satisfied God's holy requirement, and so it covered, it gave Him satisfaction because that requirement was met. So there is no sin seen in this. This is not a sacrifice in which offended justice is satisfied. This is very important to understand this offering.
Let us go to Leviticus 4 and verse 20. Does anybody know what is in Leviticus 4? It is the sin offering.
Leviticus 4:20 And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
Now here the word atonement means to make satisfaction for sin.
Leviticus 4:26 And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
Again atonement is used in the sense of meeting the obligation, meeting the requirement, satisfying there and covering it with the blood that represented Christ's blood.
Leviticus 4:31 He shall remove all its fat, as the fat is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
No sin is seen in the burnt offering because that is not what this offering is teaching. In this offering, God is satisfied because the offerer has met His requirements by his life—by the way that he lived; therefore the offering shows the offerer accepted.
There is an interesting contrast to this back in Revelation 3:14 with the Laodiceans. We are not going to turn to it, but what did God do there? He spit them out of His mouth, figuratively speaking, or at least threatened to do that, because even though they were His children, the attitude and the way that they lived their lives was totally unacceptable to Him. There was nothing that gave Him satisfaction. So they are cast from His presence and we will have to see how that works out.
Back to Leviticus 1. Here is another aspect of this.
Leviticus 1:5 He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
The first point was that it was offered for acceptance. The second one was that a life was offered. All of these things, remember, please do not forget this, or these sermons will have no point to them. They apply to us, and we are supposed to see ourselves in these as much as we possibly can. This distinction, that a life was offered—remember, the meal offering does not have a life offered within it—is very significant once you understand that this offering typifies devotion and that no sin is involved in this offering. Neither does it picture the death of the offerer. So the sacrifice was primarily seen as a gift to God.
You might remember the word corban from the New Testament. Remember Mark 7—it is corban. The people were saying, "It is a gift." That is what that means. It is a gift to God, and that is what the offering was. It was a gift to God. Now who did the offering represent? The offerer. What does this offering represent overall? A life given. A life lived, but given in total surrender to God.
We did not make any emphasis of this, but the offerer had to lay his hands on the offering as he brought it, and that was done in order to identify the offerer with the offering—that the offering represented him. And then the animal was killed in order to signify that the animal represented the offerer giving himself. He made a gift of himself. Again, you see, this is voluntary. It is our choice. We have to make the decision, but He is teaching us what He wants us to do—to use our knowledge, to use our understanding, to make a gift of ourselves to God. There can be no more precious gift given to God than a life given in the way that it is lived.
We are going to go back into the New Testament again to Colossians 1. Here we are going to be looking at Christ's example again. What I am reading this for is to just give us a hook to understand what it means for Him to give Himself in terms of things that we might be able to relate to.
Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Now here it begins to describe Him in His offices and so forth.
Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him, and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
This is the One who gave Himself as a gift to the Father.
Colossians 1:18-23 And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things in earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven, which I, Paul, became a minister.
We could go on there, but I do not think that there is any need to go on. I finished with the verse that I did because I wanted to draw us back into the picture once again, that this was done for us by Him as an example that we are to follow. So you see, He did what He did for us. He lived perfectly, and He died for us.
Let us go to Philippians. I want to read this in terms of what I have been saying.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. . .
That is the same mind that led Him to do what He did in behalf of us.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself [voluntarily] of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point death, even the death of the cross.
Do you see the pattern that He established? This is all bound up in the burnt offering. Now do not remove this statement that Paul made from its context.
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore [i.e. in light of these things that I have just written, Paul says], my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
You can see what I meant. The parallel is there. We cannot of course do it as Christ did, but it is God's intention that we make effort to do it.
Leviticus 1:6-9 And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma to the LORD.
It was wholly burnt on the altar. Let us go back to Matthew 22. There is a New Testament statement of Jesus that fits this sacrifice to a tee.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
With that in mind, go back to Leviticus 1. What does the head represent? Remember, this is a totally devoted offering that represents the man. In our head is our brain. In our head, you might say, is our mind, and so the head represents our thoughts. I am going to skip the fat for just a minute. What about the entrails? That has to do with the emotional quality of our life, our feelings. What about the legs? Everybody ought to know this. That has to do with the way we walk—the way we live our life, the way we work.
What about the fat? Fat is used in the Bible as a symbol of prosperity. It has to do in this context with our general health and vigor, or strength and energy. What do we have when we put these all together? We have an ever clearer identification with a total devotion, total surrender. Every aspect of our life surrendered to God's will. Nothing is held back. Nothing is reserved for ourselves. Everything is given as a gift—time, thinking, feelings, the way we do things, attitudes.
Let us see some examples from Jesus' life, just enough to give us an overview. We are going to look at the book of Luke first.
Luke 2:49 And He said to them [His mother and father], "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
He was 12 years old. Do you realize that these are the first recorded words that Jesus uttered? "I must be about My Father's business." In Luke 4 is His commission.
Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor [those weak and disenfranchised]; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
John 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My meat food [that which energizes Me] is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
Go to John 19. This is Jesus' last recorded words.
John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!"
He did it! Thirty-three and one-half years, totally devoted. "I did it! It's finished."
Just by contrast, we could go back to Psalm 49, and you can do that in your own study. That psalm was written so that we might see a contrast between how the energies between this world are expended and what results, and the results of those who give themselves wholeheartedly to God. They are contrasted within that psalm.
Psalm 49:10-20 For he sees wise men die; likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man, though in honor does not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. This the way of those who are foolish; and of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me. Selah. Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (for men will praise you when you do well for yourself), he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish.