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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 1

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-9

The Blood of the Cross in Leviticus

Leviticus 1:1-9


The story of the sacrifices begins in the Bible immediately after the story of man's sin. It was then that God took the skin of the slain beast with which to robe the nakedness of our first parents.

It was shortly after that the firstling of the flock was slain by Abel, and the smell of his sacrifice went up as a sweet smelling savor unto God. The story of special sacrifices is particularly emphasized, in its details, in the Book of Leviticus. If we took the story of the Cross from Leviticus we would take away the story of the whole Book. Leviticus is the only Book in the Bible that seems to be given exclusively to the discussion of the Blood of the Cross, and to the One whose Blood was shed.

There are various questions which come to the mind of the Bible student relative to the sacrifices. For our part, in this study, we will try to answer some of these questions.

1. What is the relationship between the sacrifices of the Old Testament and the supreme sacrifice of the New Testament? The sacrifices of the Old Testament anticipated and symbolically portrayed the sacrifice of Christ.

2. Why does the Bible say that God had no pleasure in the sacrificing of bulls and of goats? This statement is made in Hebrews to show once and for all that the only sacrifice that could save the sinner was the. sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. God settles forever the fact that the Old Testament sacrifices are absolutely useless apart from the significance which they foretold. It was their foreshadowing of Christ that made them valuable.

3. Why did God say through Isaiah the Prophet: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats"? The Lord had definitely commanded the very sacrifices which He proclaimed were an abomination to Him, and a weariness to Him. God said this because those who were offering the sacrifices were offering them merely with a religious zeal without any knowledge whatsoever of their deeper spiritual meanings. God is just as much dissatisfied today with the ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord's Supper, when those ordinances are merely formalities which have lost their symbolical significance.

4. Why was it that in the Levitical offerings there were sacrifices of various kinds when the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary was but one supreme sacrifice? The reason for this was that each sacrifice in Leviticus was to set forth one phase of the life and death of our Lord. No one sacrifice could cover all of these.

The burnt offering, set forth in chapter 1, showed that Jesus Christ was a perfect Sacrifice, sinless, and acceptable unto the Father.

The meat offering of Leviticus 2:1-16 shows us that Jesus Christ upon the Cross was God's gift to us. It was, in reality, a gift offering, and it set forth that God gave unto us a Saviour, One who was pure, white, without spot or blemish.

The peace offering of Leviticus 3:1-17 sets forth the ground of acceptable approach unto God. The question of sins had to be set aside before we have the right to enter into the Shekinah presence.

The sin offering for the sins of ignorance in Leviticus 4:1-35 acclaimed the fact that Jesus Christ on the Cross settled not only the willful sins, but sins of ignorance. It also showed that we are lost whether we sin in ignorance, or not, and therefore Christ in His sacrificial work atoned for our sins of ignorance.

The trespass offering sets forth the Cross of Christ in its atonement for sins, first toward our fellow man, and second toward God.

5. There is a question which is often asked: why does it say in Hebrews that Christ offered one sacrifice for sins forever and sat down? It was because the sacrifices of the Old Testament were many inasmuch as they anticipated the one supreme sacrifice. On the other hand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was an all-sufficient sacrifice in the one offering, and was the fulfillment of all the many sacrifices which anticipated that offering. Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father showing that His work was a completed work.

6. In what sense does the Blood of Jesus Christ continue to cleanse from all sin? 1 John 1:7 is speaking of the sins of believers and the forgiveness which we obtain, as saints, through the virtue of the Cross. The word "cleanseth" is in the present tense, and it suggests that the Blood of Christ cleanses moment by moment, purging the heart and conscience of the believer.

I. THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1:3 , f.c.)

Our text reads, "If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish." The fact that the offering was a male without blemish sets forth the inherent holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, He knew no sin; He did no sin; and in Him there was no sin. Jesus Christ could look the people in the face and say, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" Every man on the face of the earth who lives now, or has ever lived, was born a sinner, with the exception of Jesus Christ. He was from above, we are from beneath. He was begotten of the Holy Ghost, therefore it was written: "That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God"; we were begotten of sinful parents, and were conceived in sin, therefore we are sinners.

This conception of Jesus Christ is absolutely vital to His Calvary work. If He had been a sinner, He could not have atoned for our sins. Had He, as a sinner, been made a sacrifice for sin, and suffered for sin, He would of necessity have suffered and sacrificed for His own sins. He could die for the unjust only because He was Just. He could be made sin for us only because He knew no sin.

Every offering in the Levitical sacrifices represented the Lord Jesus Christ as without sin.

When Peter spoke of the Blood of Christ he said, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, * * but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world."

Thus it was that God in His eternal purpose sent forth His Son in the form of flesh, that He might become a sacrifice for us. He could not send any man to die for us because all men were sinners. He could not send a sinless angel to die for us because the sinless angel was not flesh on the one hand, and did not have a value sufficient, on the other hand, to pay the price of the redemption of all sinners.


Here is a point that is absolutely vital to the story of the Cross. The burnt offering was a gift offering on the part of the people, but more particularly was a gift on the part of God.

1. God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son. We realize that God's gift was a voluntary gift. There was no compulsion whatsoever in the Father's sending forth His Son into the world. It was love that lay behind it.

2. Christ's sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross was also a gift. He "loved the Church, and gave Himself for it." Jesus Christ said, "I am the Good Shepherd, * * and I [give] My life for the sheep." We will say more about this anon.

In this voluntary act of Calvary there are two vital things set forth:

(1) Jesus Christ did not go to the Cross under compulsion. He went as a lamb, to be sure, but not as a lamb against his will. As a sheep before her shearers is dumb so He opened not His mouth.

(2) Salvation is a gift freely given, and it cannot be bought by any worth which any man on earth thinks he possesses. The gift of God is eternal life. All of this is anticipated in the statement of Leviticus 1:3 , l.c.


1. This act showed that the one who brought his burnt offering confessed that his sins were transferred to the one about to be offered. What we mean is this: in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ we died. Paul put it this way: "I am crucified with Christ." In the Book of Romans we read: "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death; * * knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed." In. other words, if Christ died for us, we died in Him. Our sins were imputed unto the Saviour. The statement of 2 Corinthians 5:21 is tremendous. It says that Christ was made sin for us, This thought is set forth in the story of the uplifted serpent. The fiery serpents were biting the Children of Israel, and the Israelites were dying on every hand. Moses pleaded on their behalf, and God, in response to Moses' prayer, commanded that a brazen serpent should be lifted up on a pole, and that every one bitten, who looked to that serpent should be healed.

When Jesus Christ spoke to Nicodemus He referred to this serpent, and said, "Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Thus, on the Cross we see, not only Christ dying for us, but we see ourselves dying in Him. We align ourselves to that Cross. We take the position that our stripes fell upon Him; that His soul was made an offering for us.

2, This expression showed that Jesus Christ was acceptable to the Father in our behalf. We want to come to God, but no man can come to God in himself. We are entirely shut out, and forever shut out. God is holy, and the unholy cannot enter into His presence. God is just, and the unjust cannot have admittance before His face. As we place our hand upon the Divine sacrifice, we seek to make our approach unto God by no merit of our own, but solely upon the merit of another, even upon the merit of the slain Lamb of God.


We have given a little of this but we must emphasize it more. Jesus Christ said on one occasion "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." The Father cannot accept us, however, the Father accepts the Son.

Let us, for one moment, call this offering an approach offering. A burnt offering is an ascending offering, or an entrance offering. We stand at the door and wish to enter in. However, there is no possible method of approach save as we approach through the Blood of the Lamb.

We remember now the story of Revelation 7:13 , Revelation 7:14 . It is the story of a great multitude who came out of great tribulation. They came out having their robes washed and made white in the Blood of the Lamb. Now, get the next word. The Elder said: "Therefore are they before the Throne of God, and serve Him day and night." They stand before the throne of God because they came in by the Blood of the Lamb, For a moment let us see Christ dying upon the Cross, His sacrifice was a sacrifice acceptable unto the Father. This is the vital meaning of the burnt offering, but not only that, His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father, and it also makes us acceptable in Him.

Jesus Christ ascending in the clouds led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto man. All of this sets forth the fact that His ascension is our ascension. Looking at His disciples, He said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." As we see the Lord sitting at the right hand of the Father we see ourselves raised from the dead, and seated with Him in the glory. We are there because He is there.


We have emphasized in the earlier part of this study how the lamb had to be without spot and without blemish. However, a spotless Christ is not a Saviour.

When God commanded the Children of Israel to take the lamb and keep it up until the fourteenth day, He commanded that the lamb should be without spot, a male, and a firstling of the flock. All of this referred, of course, to the purity and spotlessness of the Son of God. However, it was not the living lamb that was to be tied at the door, but it was the slain lamb that was to prove the vital memorial at the passover.

There are some people today who are forever giving honor to the Man of Galilee, or to the Bable of Bethlehem. That honor is due Him, we know, but, beloved, it is not the beautiful life of the Babe of Bethlehem, nor the matchless walk of the Man of Galilee which saved us. His holiness and spotlessness made Him a possible, but not an actual, Saviour.

The burnt offering was to be killed. So, also, did Christ die that He might bring us unto God. Had Jesus Christ passed all the way from the manger, where He lay a Babe, to the Garden of Gethsemane, He could not thus have become our Saviour.

It was when He hung upon the Cross that His soul was made an offering for sin. It was there that He suffered, the Just for the unjust. When that agony began, He began to pass around the cycle of His suffering for us. When that sacrifice ended, He cried, "It is finished," and the work of redemption was then completed.


We now come to a statement that is just as vital as the one we have been considering. We said that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was not only vital TO our redemption, but it WAS our redemption. It is the Blood that is all our plea.

We wish now to say that the slain Lamb alone cannot save the sinner. Christ died for all, to be sure. The sacrifice has been made. God has been satisfied. The offended Law has been also satisfied. Every legal obstacle, and Divine demand is forever satisfied, but there is one thing that must be done before a sinner can be saved.

The blood, in the "type" we are now studying, was to be sprinkled around about the altar on every side: to the east, the west, the north, and the south. That sprinkling seems to say, "Calvary is open to men of every kindred, tongue, tribe, and every clime." The possibility of redemption is for all. "Whosoever will, may come." Christ said, "By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved."

The Blood sprinkled in the four directions, however, carries with it more than a universal call to men of every clime. It also establishes that all men are sinners, and that no man can escape the need of the Cross. Even more than all of this, the sprinkling of that Blood shows that the shed Blood must be applied. It is for every one, but it must be received by each.

In the old days, when the Passover lamb was killed on the fourteenth day, God gave the command that the blood should be sprinkled upon the upper doorpost, and the side-posts of the house. We say it reverently, but we say it with assurance, no sinner can ever come to God without he believes, and believes intelligently, and personally, in the Divine sacrifice.

It is not the Blood of Christ dripping from the wounds of the Saviour, nor rushing from His side, that saves; it is that Blood applied by faith to the individual heart and life. The slain Lamb must be an accepted Saviour, before the lost sinner is an accepted saint.


The flaying of the burnt offering signified that the skin of the bullock must be cut off. This skin stands for the outer life of the Lord Jesus Christ, the public manifestations of the Lord, His ministry, and messages, His service, His mighty deeds. All these were before the public gaze, and all of them stood acceptable unto the Father, Now, however, the skin was to be taken from the bullock. The earth-life and deeds of the Master were for the moment to be set aside, and His inner life was to be laid bare.

The bullock was then to be cut in pieces that its inner perfections and spotlessness might be portrayed. In all of this we have set forth the fact of the inherent holiness of Christ. He was not only holy in word and in action, but He was holy within.

There was no sin upon Him save when the Father put our sins upon Him as a substitute. There was no sin within Him; He was the Holy One of God.

When this sacrifice had thus been cut in pieces, the inwards and legs were to be washed in water. All of this, once more, shows that Christ was the spotless Son of God. The priest was commanded to burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, as an offering by fire, a sweet savor unto the Lord. Thus it was that the One who knew no sin died for the sinner.

The fire which consumed the pieces, speaks of the wrath of God which fell upon the Cross, However, mark you, at the same moment we read that this sacrifice was a sweet savor unto God. It is one moment under the wrath of God, and at the same moment it was acceptable unto God.

The sacrifice which Abel offered went up as a sweet-smelling savor unto the Lord. The sacrifice which Noah offered ascended before God as a sweet-smelling savor. The sacrifice of the Son of God, also, was a sweet-smelling and acceptable sacrifice. When Jesus Christ breathed His last upon the Cross, the Father received Him into the arms of His love.

As we close, we wish only to say that, chapter by chapter, Leviticus carries on the wonderful story of the Cross of Christ.



There is a strange legend of old St. Martin. He sat one day in his monastery cell, busily engaged in his sacred studies, when there came a knock at the door. "Enter," said the monk. The door opened and there appeared a stranger of lordly look, in princely attire. "Who art thou?" asked St. Martin. "I am Christ," was the answer. The confident bearing, and the commanding tone of the visitor would have overawed a less wise man. But the monk simply gave his visitor one deep, searching glance, and then quietly asked, "Where is the print of the nails?" He had noticed that this one indubitable mark of Christ's Person was wanting. There were no nail-scars upon those jeweled hands. And the kingly mien and the brilliant dress of the pretender were not enough to prove his claim while the print of the nails was wanting. Confused by this searching test-question, and his base deception exposed, the prince of evil for he it was quickly fled from the sacred cell.

This is only a legend, but it suggests the one infallible test that should be applied to all truth and to all life. There is much in these days that claims to be of Christ There be those who would have us lay aside the old faiths, and accept new beliefs and new interpretations. How shall we know whether or not to receive them? The only true test is that with which St. Martin exposed the false pretensions of his visitor: "Where is the print of the nails?" Nothing is truly Christ which does not bear this mark upon it. A Gospel without a wounded, dying Christ is not a gospel. The Atonement lies at the heart of Christianity. The Cross is the luminous center, from which streams all the light of joy, peace and hope. That which docs not bear the marks of the Lord Jesus cannot be of Him. J. R. Miller, D.D.

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Leviticus 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/leviticus-1.html.
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