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As we get into Leviticus we get into the various offerings and the method by which they were to be offered unto the Lord. It is getting into a system that is very foreign to us, because it is a covenant that has now been set aside, that God might establish a better covenant with us. This covenant of the sacrifice of the animals could never make anything perfect, but all it could do is to point ahead to that sacrifice that was to be offered, whereby we could be brought into full perfection before the Lord.
Paul tells the Ephesians that they are to be followers of God as dear children. "Walk in love as Christ also hath loved us and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor." ( Ephesians 5:2 ) So Christ was more than just our sin offering; He was also the sweet savor offering.
Now, the offerings that were given to the Lord were divided into the sweet savor offerings and the sin offerings. There were three basic sweet savor offerings and we will be talking about these in more detail, but there was the burnt offering, which was the consecration. There was the meal offering, which is translated in your Bibles "meat," but it should be meal offering because it was made of fine flour and oil, and that was a sacrifice of service unto God. And then there was the peace offering, which was the fellowship and communion with God. Those were the sweet savor offerings. Then we had the two sin offerings: one, the sin offering and the other the trespass offering. And we will be noting the difference in those two as we move through the text.
It is important to notice that in verse three of Leviticus chapter one that any sacrifice or offering that you offered unto the Lord had to be of one's own voluntary will. Man exercised his own free will when he left fellowship with God. It is necessary that man exercise his own free will to return to fellowship with God. So the own voluntary will is something that God required. God does not force you to love Him. God does not force you to serve Him. God does not force you to give to Him. It must be something of your own voluntary will.
And in the sacrifices, when it was an animal sacrifice, there was always the laying of your hand upon the sacrifice before the slaying of it. And that laying of your hand upon the sacrifice, the head of the sacrifice, was in essence a transference of yourself, so that the animal was dying in your stead. In the case of the sin or trespass offering it was the laying of your hand upon the head of the animal in order that your guilt and your sin might be transferred onto the animal, and thus, it was slain for your sins. In the case of the burnt offering, your consecration again the laying on of hand was the symbolizing of the animal is taking my place as a complete offering unto God, a total consecration unto Him.
The word atonement in verse four, the later portion there,
to make atonement for him ( Leviticus 1:4 ).
It is important that we distinguish between the word "atonement" in the Old Testament and the word "atonement" in the New Testament. For in the Old Testament the word "atonement" comes from the Hebrew word kaphar, which means, "to cover." Now it was impossible that the blood of bulls or goats could put away our sin. They never put away sins for anybody. But they did make a covering for sin, so that the guilt of the person was covered, but it wasn't put away. So the word atonement in the Old Testament usage out of Hebrew, from the word kaphar is actually a covering. And kaphar, you can think of the cover. Actually our word "cover" comes pretty much from it. A kaphar for the sins, a covering.
In the New Testament through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our sins were put away by His sacrifice once and for all. So the new covenant that God has established through Jesus Christ is far superior, as you get into the old covenant here and all of the various sacrifices. How grateful we should be for that sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us whereby this old relationship with God is no longer valid, but has been invalidated by the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
The purpose of all of the sacrifices, the purpose of the covenant was that God might establish a basis, whereby you can have fellowship with Him. When God created man, it was in the heart and mind of God to create man, in order that God might fellowship with man. But in order to fellowship, and the word means "oneness," in order for me to have a oneness with God, I must be obedient to the will of God.
The Bible says, "can two walk together except they be agreed?"( Amos 3:3 ) Can I really walk with God unless I am in agreement? I cannot have real fellowship with God unless I am in agreement with God. And so God creating man for the purpose of fellowship, that fellowship with God was broken early there in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed the commandment of God. And with the entrance of sin there came a broken fellowship with God. Now man alienated from God, God sought to restore him to fellowship. But the law of God had been violated. And God said, "the soul that sinneth, it shall surely die. In the day that thou eatest thereof," God said, "thou shalt surely die." ( Genesis 2:17 ) So here is the law that is broken and the penalty that is there hanging.
And for God to restore man into fellowship with Him something had to be done about the law. And thus, God established in the Old Testament this system of sacrifices where the animal became your substitute and where the animal was slain for you. As we said the laying on of hands, the transference of yourself to the animal, and then the animal dying in your place. It became your substitute and through the death of the animal your sin was covered, and you could have fellowship with God until you sinned again, then you had to bring another animal. And so unless you were very wealthy and had a big herd, you were really in trouble, you know, as far as a continued fellowship with God.
Now, that covenant failed to bring man into a full complete fellowship with God. What it did do was point forward to that day when God would send His only begotten Son to be as a Lamb sacrificed for our sins. So Peter said, "We are redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold from our vain manner of living, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ who was slain as a lamb without spot or blemish" ( 1 Peter 1:18 , 1 Peter 1:19 ). So as we study these sacrifices, we must realize that they were, all of them just fingers pointing ahead to Jesus Christ. They were saying, "We're not it. We can't do it. But there is One who is coming who will." And they are all pointing man to the Perfect Sacrifice that God was to offer when Jesus Christ was crucified and went before the Father to make atonement.
Now the word "atonement" in the New Testament is to make one with, or the Koinonia, the idea of fellowship. Now I have become one with God through Jesus Christ, His blood having now atoned or making possible atonement for my sins in order that I might now have this beautiful fellowship with God.
So as we get into the offerings, chapter one deals with the burnt offering. Now the burnt offering was an offering of consecration. If I wish to really consecrate my life completely to God, I would signify this desire of total consecration by bringing an ox to the priest, laying my hand upon the head of the ox, slaying it. The priest taking the blood in and putting it on the horns of the altar and then the ox was to be burnt entirely. The whole thing was to be consumed on the altar as a sweet smelling savor unto God. That neat smell of barbecued beef. As smoke arises and ascends upward, it becomes a sweet smelling savor unto God. But the whole thing was to be burnt in the fire and totally consumed by the fire. He is speaking of the fact that my consecration to God needs to be a total consecration, not holding back any area for myself.
One of the problems today is the incomplete consecration of so many lives. We hold back so many areas from God, what God wants really, if we are to consecrate ourselves to Him. "I beseech ye therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you will present your bodies holy and accessible unto God which is your reasonable service." ( Romans 12:1 ) And God wants you to present yourself totally, completely to Him not reserving, not holding back anything for yourself, but a total consecration. Now, you could use an ox, you could use a sheep, or if you were poor, you could use turtledoves for this offering.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany