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The Law of the Burnt Sacrifices
Leviticus 1:1.—Lord called … and spake. From within the Tabernacle: God’s first habitation among men. Never before had He “dwelt with men on the earth”; He speaks now for the first time from His holy tent in Israel’s midst. It foreshadowed the “Word tabernacling among us” (John 1:14). “The Lord called” is a phrase specially used when important communications were to follow; as from the burning bush (Exodus 3:4), and from Sinai’s heights (Leviticus 19:3-20). The law of commandments was given to Moses amid flames and thunder, as being condemnatory of man’s sin. Now, the law of sacrifice is given in gracious communication through Moses, as revealing God’s plan of mercy. For us, in these Christian times, the gentler teachings of the Mount of Beatitudes form our law of duty and of life.
Leviticus 1:2.—If any man of you bring. God assumes—
(1) That men would seek Him; would draw near to Him in the sacred tent, wherein He had come so near to men. If so, surely more readily and gratefully we should seek Him in Jesus. “God was in Christ,” etc. (2 Corinthians 5:19).
(2) That men will seek Him, bringing offerings; some presentation as a token of homage and gratitude for His gifts to them; or some propitiation as a lament over their sin and an appeal to His mercy. God still looks for offerings as we “come before His presence”; what shall we render? what worthiest presentation can we take?
Leviticus 1:3.—A burnt sacrifice. This expressed the offerer’s surrender of himself unto God as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). The victim must have no blemish, must be the choicest product of his pastures; for God asks, and will only receive, our best (Malachi 1:14). It must be offered “of his own voluntary will,” or rather “for his own acceptance,” expressing his great concern to win God’s gracious regard; and indeed, we ought to concern ourselves supremely for this; “in Thy favour is life.” And he must offer it “at the door of the tabernacle,” as being unworthy to enter. With humility and reverence, and a lowly sense of demerit, we should venture near God.
(a) Christ is herein typified; our Sacrifice “without blemish,” offered for man’s “acceptance,” ere He “entered the holy place” (Hebrews 9:12-24).
(b) The Christian is prefigured; “yielding himself alive unto God,” “holy and acceptable,” ere he is admitted into covenant privileges within the Church now, and finally into God’s presence in heaven.
Leviticus 1:4.—Put his hand upon the head. An act of transfer: threefold; signifying transference of his right of possession in the victim, his sense of sin to the victim, and his substitution for suffering of the victim. Thus the Christian gives up all rights of self-possession (“Ye are not your own”): thus also the sinner lays all his sin, and the believer all his hope, on Christ his sacrifice and substitute. It must be the individual’s own act, none can do it for another; every one must himself lay “his hand” on Christ.
Leviticus 1:5.—He shall kill the bullock. Thereby he identified himself with the victim designated to die, and thereby claimed the “atonement” effected by its sacrificial substitution. To be saved we must also be identified with Christ in His death, and thereby inherit His atonement. “The priest shall bring the blood,” not the offerer; for the priestly offices of Christ are essential; man must let Jesus do all the work of propitiation. “Sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar”; attesting thereby that life had been given up in sacrificial Buffering unto God. Christ’s death is the sinner’s death, and “the blood of sprinkling” testifies that “He made His soul an offering for sin.” Diffused “round about upon the altar,” the blood is the memorial of an accomplished atonement, the seal of an accepted sacrifice.
Leviticus 1:6-9—Fire upon the altar … an offering made by fire. Once lighted, that fire was never more to go out (ch. Leviticus 6:13). Yet every part of the victim must be “washed” faultlessly clean before being placed on the altar: only the absolutely clean can be acceptable to God. And then the entire victim, every part thereof, must ascend in sacrificial fire unto God. Thus
(1) Christ our atonement-offering must Himself be “holy, harmless, undefiled”; and must also be completely sacrificed for man’s sin. And
(2) Christian life must likewise be both thoroughly sanctified and wholly devoted unto God. “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
A sweet savour unto the Lord. The very virtue and essence of the offering ascended by fire from the altar on earth to God in heaven. Duly offered by fire, the sacrifice was “a sweet savour” to the Lord. Christ’s sacrifice was: “He gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). Christian self-consecration is: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Christian life perpetuates on earth and yields continually to heaven the incense of a pure offering, “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
Leviticus 1:10-13.—A burnt sacrifice of the flocks. Only the wealthier offerers could bring the oostlier sacrifice “of the herd” (Leviticus 1:3). God equally provides for the less opulent among the people; gives directions for their sacrifices just as specific, denoting that He valued their presentation as much as the costlier offering. Our straitened lot does not release us from God’s claims, neither is our humbler gift depreciated by God. But He requires entirety in all our sacrifices, that we devote to Him our utmost, our all. “Bring it all and burn it upon the altar.”
Leviticus 1:14-17—A burnt sacrifice of fowls. Thus God, with minute care, arranges for the poorest, that none may feel God’s requirements too heavy for them to meet, or deem their poverty a disqualification for approaching Him acceptably. In this instance, however, the priest was to bring the bird to the altar and slay it (Leviticus 1:15), thereby giving peculiar importance to the poor man’s offering as worthy special attention; for God has always put honour on the sacrifices of the poor, as our Lord did on the widow’s mite. Yet insignificant as was the offering of the poor, it must as fully denote entire self-devotion to God. He prizes the love which shows itself in our casting in “all our living” (Mark 12:44).
(A). THE LEVITICAL RITUAL
That Moses was the author of this Book is acknowledged by most competent scholars. The events of the Book cover only about a month of time, i.e., from the erection of the tabernacle to the numbering of the people, and they relate to the establishment of sacrificial worship among the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai.
I. Although the words of Leviticus were written by Moses, they were dictated by the Lord.
The first verse of the Book decides this point, Moses records the utterances that proceeded from the tabernacle. So far then as Leviticus is concerned, we have the thoughts of God in the words of God, and, as such, they deserve our reverent attention, as indicating Jehovah’s desire for our acceptable approach to Him.
(1) the pure ethical teaching of the Levitical ritual could not have been invented by a people so perverse and prone to corruption as Israel;
(2) and they would not voluntarily have put themselves under such restrictions if they could. The revelation of God to Israel, through His servant Moses, was the outcome of the Divine disposition to communicate to and commune with man, of His deep concern for human holiness and happiness; this the basis and spring of all revelation and blessing to our race. [See Illustrative Addenda, p. 18, Revelation.]
II. Although the rites of Leviticus have been superseded, its moral teaching has not been abrogated.
If read in connection with the Epistle to Hebrews (which is its best commentary) lessons upon Christian work, worship, witnessing may be gathered. Christ came not to destroy the law, but to give it a fuller and deeper significance, to exemplify and enforce the principles therein taught. The perfect ethics of the Gospel have their germs and roots in the law, both enjoin holiness to the Lord.
III. Although the sacrifices of Leviticus have been discontinued, the one offering of Christ abideth for ever.
We need no material altar or sacrifice; and, therefore, no human priest. Christ finished His atoning work upon the Cross—appears now as “Lamb in the midst of the throne,” showing that while He was once a victim (“Lamb”) He is now a victor (“throne”). The law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Except read in light of the New Testament, Leviticus becomes a form without power, shadow without substance. With joy we may draw water out of these wells of salvation. In its typical rites we may apprehend Him who hath obtained eternal redemption for us.—Rev. F. W. Brown.
(B). COMMUNION WITH GOD BY A REDEEMED PEOPLE THROUGH ALTAR OFFERINGS
The Exodus sacrifices, those offered by the children of Israel while in Egypt, i.e., the paschal lamb and unleavened bread, had reference and significance wholly to their redemption: deliverance from death and bondage. The Levitical sacrifices were those of a saved people, and were appointed for their acceptable approaches to God their Saviour. Instead, therefore, of seeing Christ as redeeming us, we see Him in His work for those already redeemed; bringing them into fellowship with God and restoring them when they fail or fall. To hold communion with God they need Christ both as Offering and Mediator, Sacrifice and Priest; thus He appears in the tabernacle services. Gathering all the tabernacle offerings into one view, remark that:
I. Altar offerings and tabernacle ministries all reach their completion in Christ.
He is the Burnt Offering, Meat Offering, Peace Offering, Sin Offering, Trespass Offering for His people. “When He said, sacrifice and offering and burnt offering and offering for sin Thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein, which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:8-9). By the one oblation of Himself He has stood in all those relations; relations precious to God, needful to His Church.
1. In each offering three distinct objects are present: the offering, the priest, the offerer. Christ is each of and all these. So manifold are the relations in which Christ has stood for man and to man that all types are required to represent His fulness. First He comes as Offerer; but we cannot see the Offerer without the offering; and the Offerer is Himself the Offering; and He who is both Offerer and Offering is also the Priest.
(1) As offerer, we see Him our Substitute, “fulfilling all righteousness.”
(2) As priest, we see Him our Mediator, ministering between God and Israel.
(3) As offering, He is seen the Innocent Victim, a sweet savour to God, yet bearing the sin and dying for it.
(1) The offerer sets forth Christ in His Person; who became man to meet God’s requirements.
(2) The offering presents Him in His character and work, as the victim by which atonement was ratified.
(3) The priest shows Him in His official relation as the appointed intercessor.
2. The difference in the several offerings asks notice; the Burnt, the Meat, the Peace offerings, etc. They represent different aspects of Christ’s offering. [For their different meaning compare Homilies on each.]
3. The offerer himself also reflects Christ in His diverse aspects. The faithful Israelite stands, in one instance, as a sinless offerer, presenting a “sweet smelling savour” for acceptance with God, not propitiating for sin; in another as a convicted sinner, offering an expiatory sacrifice which bears the pain and penalty of his transgressions.
The offering of Christ was but one, and but once offered; but as Christ’s fulness and relations are so manifold, all aspects are needful to represent Him in those manifold relations and His various work for us.
4. The different grades in the various offerings is equally significant; the bullock, the lamb, the dove. And these denote the different estimates and apprehensions formed of Christ by His people. Christ’s work is so complete that each aspect may be differently apprehended according to the measure of light in the believer. Some never go beyond the conception of Christ as their Paschal Offering, securing their redemption from Egyptian bondage and death. Others, however, see Him as their Burnt Offering, wholly devoted to God for them; while to others He is as the passive Lamb silent and submissive in affliction; and to others the mourning Dove gentle and sorrowful in His innocency.
II. Altar offerings and tabernacle ministries were designed for Israel’s acceptable communion with God.
The types of Leviticus, in distinction from the types of redemption or deliverance from doom, give us the work of Christ in its bearing on worship and communion.
1. They meet the needs of a ransomed people in providing for their access to God. If they come for consecration they bring the burnt offerings: if for grateful acknowledgment of Divine bounty and graciousness, they bring the food offerings; if for reconciliation after ignorant misadventure or neglect of duty or temporary transgression, they bring their peace or trespass offering, &c. But they all provide a basis for access to and acceptance with God.
How thoroughly all these qualities unite in the one offering of Jesus is manifest; so that we, redeemed by Him, come before God with His merits and graces, and are accepted in Him. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.… and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:1-2; Romans 5:11).
2. Christ’s work as connected with the communion of His people, must be viewed under manifold representations. The Offering first: for His one oblation
“Provides for those who come to God
An all-prevailing plea.”
Yet how few believers enter earnestly into the manifold aspects and alms of Christ’s one offering represented in the various victims and the arrangements for their sacrifice. They read of Him as the Sin Offering, the Burnt Offering, &c., but no corresponding thought is suggested to them by this distinction. It is enough for them that the blood of the Paschal Lamb has been sprinkled on their door post and they are saved: they inquire not more concerning Him. But they who would know the joy of communion must go from strength to strength in the knowledge of the grace and work of Jesus. Have they known Him as the Paschal Lamb? They will then seek to know Him as the offering within the Tabernacle. Have they learnt Him in His different relations as offering? They will then seek to know Him in His Offices as Priest: His ministrations for us within the Holy Place: His grace and acceptableness as our Mediator at the altar: His free entrance on our behalf into the presence of God.
Thus, redemption being known, the Levitical sacrifices relate to the access of a chosen people to God: and show Christ as He is discerned by one who already knows the certainty of redemption; Christ the Priest, the Offerer, the Offering: Christ as meeting all that a sinner saved needs in approaching to God: Christ for the believer, and all that Christ is to the believer as keeping up his daily communion with God, meeting his needs in his access to Jehovah.—Homiletically arranged by Editor from “Jukes on the Offerings.”
Topic.—WORSHIP BY SACRIFICE (Leviticus 1:1-9)
A great change had now occurred in the conditions of worship. God had hitherto declared His will amid terrible manifestations. The people had stood afar off in fear. Only through Moses, as a daysman betwixt them, had God spoken to men, or men approached Him. Now the Lord had commanded, “Build Me a tabernacle that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). Within their camp was a smoking altar, whose incense was a voiceless but constant prayer; and a Holy of Holies, in whose mysterious recesses dwelt the unseen Jehovah. To Him all the people were to approach, presenting their sacrificial offerings to Him for propitiation and consecration.
I. ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP MUST BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH DIVINE DIRECTION.
1. Many approach God with the feeling that He is glad to have the attention of men, and will welcome them under any circumstances. But He has made conditions for acceptable worship. It must be with
(a) An obedient spirit. “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, etc., but he that doeth the will of My Father.”
(b) A reverent spirit. “Put thy shoes from off thy feet.”
(c) Faith. “He that cometh to God must believe,” etc.
The people who had been so awestricken by the voice from the Mount that “they entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more” would not venture to approach Jehovah unless called, nor in any way than the appointed. God has a right to prescribe the methods by which He shall be worshipped, and it is a proof of His mercy that He entered into minute details.
2. In any way that God commands, worship is a priceless privilege.
Here He appoints approach through sacrifices. Origin of sacrifice seems to have been man’s feeling of sin and need, and conviction of obligation to God. First recorded sacrifice is Abel’s offering. From that time sacrifice became a common method of worship. God took this method of expressing religious feelings and thoughts, and taught the people to use it in approaching Him, but in elevated and refined forms. It was figurative and symbolic.
3. God’s appointed way for the approach of men to Him has always been by sacrifice. The object of sacrifice was to awaken and maintain reverence for God, and express men’s feelings towards Him. Not now by the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of Christ is the sacrifice by which we come to God. “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” But except through sacrifice no man may draw near. True religion is a revealed way of approach to God.
II. SACRIFICIAL WORSHIP WAS ORDAINED AS EXPRESSIVE OF THE WORSHIPPER’S VOLUNTARY AND ENTIRE DEDICATION TO GOD.
The burnt offering was the oldest symbol by which was sought communion with God. Its Hebrew name means “an ascending.” They declared by it
(a) Their aspiration after Him; (b) Their desire to do His will; (c) Their self-surrender to Him.
It was this devotion of soul which made the offering a “sweet savour unto Him.” Therefore the worshipper took prominent part in the act of sacrifice. Laid his hand on the victim to make it his representative. Then slew it. Priest dashed its blood against the altar, then cut it up and burned it. Blood signified the life, that by which life is supported. The word used for “blood” in earliest Old Testament times was “soul.” Blood was “holy”; never to be taken as food; was symbol of the immaterial and immortal. It meant, when dashed against the altar, that the real inward life must be devoted entirely to God; that the sacrificer offered himself, soul and body, in submission to God’s will.
III. SYMBOLIC WORSHIP BY SACRIFICE FINDS ITS FULL ELUCIDATION IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP.
1. The burnt offering suggests the holiness of God. All Jewish sacrifices express the feeling from which a religious life flows as its source, the sense of sin and of the divine holiness. That ritual is pervaded with this recognition of holiness. The tabernacle, vessels, garments, the priests who minister and the people who worship, all must be holy. But in the burnt offering this was concentrated. Infinite holiness claims the life of men. Mounting upwards towards God by self-sacrifice; that is His will. That is the central idea of Christian living—“present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,” etc.
2. The burnt offering suggests the spirit of acceptable Christian worship. It must be pure; and we are not pure. It is sacrilege to offer a polluted object in sacrifice to a holy God. New purposes, good resolutions, good acts, do not fit one already stained by sin to offer himself as an acceptable sacrifice. The burnt offering was always preceded by a sin offering. And “Christ has offered Himself a sacrifice for sins for ever”; we may therefore offer ourselves as living sacrifices, acceptable to God.
3. The burnt offering suggests the character of the acceptable Christian worshipper. He is indebted to Christ for access to the throne of grace; he knows that all his hope is in the sacrifice of Jesus. His only return, therefore, is the offering of himself as the sign and expression of the love of his heart. This offering of ourselves is (a) a whole self sacrifice; (b) a continual sacrifice—breathing life out in voluntary consecration. Such a breathing forth of self to Christ requires a constant kindling of spirit in love and devotion; a strong faith, and a habit of regarding one’s self, in all relations, as created to live for His glory.
All the solemnity of the temple, all the significance of its worship, and all the glory of the Divine presence in it, are realised in every consecrated life.
“For man the living temple is:—
The mercy-seat and cherubim
And all the holy mysteries,
He bears with him.”—Rev. Albert E. Durning.
Topic: A SWEET SAVOUR FOR ACCEPTANCE (Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17)
Thrice reiterated: “It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”
Notable differences between the burnt offerings and the sin offerings: Burnt offerings were (a) sweet savour offerings (b) for acceptance; whereas sin offerings were (a) not of a sweet savour, and (b) were required as an expiation for guilt. (a) The sweet savour offerings, i.e., the burnt, the meat, and the peace offerings, were offered on the brazen altar, which stood within the court of the tabernacle. (b) The unsavoury offerings, i.e., the sin and trespass offerings, were not consumed on the altar, some being burnt on the earth without the camp, others were sprinkled by blood and ate by the priest. (a) In the “sweet savour” offerings sin is not seen or thought of; it is the faithful Israelite giving a pleasant offering to Jehovah. (b) In the sin offerings it is the reverse, it is a sacrifice charged with the sin of the offerer. Thus: in the “sweet savour” offerings the offerer comes for acceptance as a worshipper; whereas in the sin and trespass offerings he comes as a sinner to pay the penalty of guilt. Therein is suggested and pictured
I. A HOLY WORSHIPPER, PRESENTING BEFORE GOD A PERFECT AND PLEASANT OFFERING.
Not that the offerer himself is holy; but his offering, which God accepts in his stead, is a representative of perfectness, and its quality of perfection is transferred to the offerer. The act typifies a perfect man, in his approach to God, standing the test of fire, i.e., God’s searching holiness, accepted as a fragrant savour; the offering all ascending as a sweet offering to Jehovah.
1. The transaction represents man giving to God what truly satisfies Him. It is not a transaction symbolic of a sinner bearing his sin (that appears in the sin offering), but of man giving to God an offering so pleasing to Him that the “sweet savour” of it satisfies and delights Him. With our experience of what man is, it seems wondrous that he should ever perfectly perform his part. But in Christ man has so performed it; His offering was “a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Hence we are in the burnt sacrifice brought to consider, not Christ as the Sin Bearer, but
2. Christ, as man in perfectness, meeting God in holiness. The work of Jesus here is not “God hath made Him to be sin for us”; but rather, “He loved us, and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). He appears in the burnt offering for us as man offering to God something which is most precious and most pleasing to Him.
(a) The altar is “the table of the Lord” (Malachi 1:12); whatever was put thereon was “the food of God.” Here, therefore, God finds that which suffices His longings; an offering which satisfies Him.
(b) The fire from heaven, emblem of God’s holiness, consumes the offering; and it all ascends as sweet incense before Him; betokening that all was worthy His acceptance, without fault.
(c) The victim was “without blemish”; and because of Christ’s unblemished sacrifice, His perfect spotlessness and devotedness was a sweet feast to the God of heaven.
II. A PERFECT AND PLEASANT OFFERING OFFERED TO GOD FOR HIS GRACIOUS ACCEPTANCE.
In itself “a sweet savour,” the burnt offering was presented “for acceptance” [the words in Leviticus 1:3 “of his own voluntary will” should read “to be accepted”; and are so rendered in the Sept. Vulgate, Targum, etc.]. It was offered to God to secure the acceptance of the offerer. Observe now Christ’s position as Offerer. He stood as Man for man under the law; hence:
1. His acceptance depended upon His perfectness. God made man upright; he erred and fell. God gave him opportunities and aids, for age after age, that he might again render himself acceptable to God: but in vain his efforts. The law then came; it taught him the conditions of righteousness; but none could fulfil it, and “there was none righteous, no not one.” How then could man be brought to meet God’s requirements? One way only remained (Romans 8:3-4): the Son of God undertook it for us. As man’s representative, He took our place; and there offered a perfect obedience, “a sacrifice without blemish,” for our “acceptance”; and thus answered the question and demand, Could Man bring an offering so acceptable as to satisfy God? He offered Himself; and His offering was accepted (Titus 2:14).
2. His complete acceptance guarantees His people’s also. And that it was completely accepted is assured by its being “all burnt on the altar”; nothing rejected, nothing left remaining. God gathered it all up in the incense of fire, as welcome and pleasant to Him; so that He received it all. All the virtue of that satisfactory offering is transferred from the offering to the offerer. And the believer is the offerer; his faith identifies him with Christ; he lays the hand of identifying trust on the Lord Jesus. Hence “by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). “We are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Christ’s “atonement” was the satisfaction God receives for the perfectness which the offerer presents to Him. Christ only ever did this perfectly, and was accepted for us; and we are “complete in Him.”—Developed from “Jukes on the Offerings.”
Topic: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1:3-9)
Probably we see the meaning of the Mosaic ritual more clearly than Hebrews did, for we look at it in the light of New Testament elucidation. Those who offered the sacrifices in the tabernacle knew only in part, and saw as through a glass darkly; now that the Great Sacrifice has been offered, we look at those rites face to face.
Among the Jews the burnt offering was the oldest and most significant, and announced, every day, truths of transcendent importance. Such sacrifices were symbolic of the kind of worship God requires of the human race. Notice:
I. THE NATURE OF THE BURNT OFFERING. Neither valueless nor unclean creatures were to be presented, but living, wholesome, sound, and valuable gifts; the pride and prime of the flocks and herds, “a male without blemish.” So God demands, as well as deserves, the first and best of all that we possess. He will not accept the refuse and dregs of our time and talents. Youth, strength, worth, and beauty are to be ungrudgingly, unreservedly given.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE BURNT OFFERING.
(a) Voluntary. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.” Though commanded, it was not extorted; obedience was to be willing, not compelled. God treated Israelites as men, not machines; as servants, not slaves. Men have always been allowed to “choose whom they would serve”; it is so still, we may accept or reject the Great Sacrifice; we must present ourselves voluntarily to the Lord, none other is acceptable service.
(b) Vicarious. “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him, to make atonement for him.” This act indicated the identification of the offerer with the offering, and the transference of his guilt to it. The perfect suffered for the imperfect, the guiltless for the guilty. So Christ suffered in our stead, and bore our sins, “the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” As we lay our hand, by faith, upon the spotless Lamb of God, we become identified with Him, and our guilt is transferred to Him. [See Addenda, p. 19 Propitiation.]
III. THE MANNER OF THE BURNT OFFERING. Not only strict injunction about what to be offered, and when, and where, but how the offering was to be presented.
(a) Orderly. “Order Heaven’s first law.” Minute directions given even to washing inwards and legs of victim, the plucking away of the crops of the pigeons and doves. Thus obedience was enjoined, resignation taught, and respect paid to Divine sovereignty. Voluntaryism was not to be latitudinarianism; God still requires order in our worship; forms may exist without frigid formality; and method, without mechanical monotony. Unrestrained religious fervour is only fanaticism or “will worship” and “strange fire.”
(b) Openly. “At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,” not secretly in the tent, not away from open gaze in some hidden place, but publicly. Thus the worshipper became a witness and confessor before God and man. Witnessing for God, confession of Christ still required of all who profess to believe and worship. Our light is to “shine before men,” we are to be “living epistles known and read of all men.”
(c) Devoutly. “Before the Lord.” This expression repeated to remind the offerer he was observed and judged by the searching Eye that looks into the secrets of the heart. Consciousness of being “before the Lord” would beget humility, sincerity, solemnity. Let us remember that all we think and say and do is in the light of God. “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
(d) Cheerfully. “A sweet savour unto the Lord.” As the fragrant flame ascended from the sacrifice, gladness and gratitude were symbolised, indicative of a joyful heart, and willing mind. God still requires sincerity and truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden parts we need to know wisdom. The holocaust thus taught the need of ardent love, aspiring desire, entire surrender, as the first essentials of real religion. In the self-sacrificing life and love of Christ those features meet in harmony and perfection. Though we are exempted from repeating the burnt offerings, we may present to God the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart with the assurance it will not be despised.—F. W. Brown.
Topic: VARIETY IN SACRIFICE (Leviticus 1:10-17)
He who had, in Egypt, appointed for every household the one sacrifice of the Passover, now directs sacrifices of a wider and various order, graduated to the personal ability, and spiritual condition of each worshipper. These sacrifices which are to be brought to the Lord to propitiate His graciousness to them, are themselves the appointment of His graciousness to them. So absolute are His decrees concerning what is to be presented, and how, when and by whom to be presented, that to vary them at any suggestion of priest or priests, under any impulse of devotion, gratitude or fear, or through sense of dread and distress, would be to commit one of these transgressions which the sacrifices themselves were provided to meet. [See Maurice, Doctrine of Sacrifice.]
I. THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF SIN AND NEED FOR PROPITIATION PERVADES THE VARIED RANKS OF HUMAN SOCIETY.
Guilt is universal. “Rich and poor meet together,” in sense of personal transgression and necessity for a sacrifice. Hence the wealthy who could offer “sacrifice of the herd,” the middle class who could only bring “offering of the flocks,” and the poorest whose impecuniosity compelled them to bring an “offering to the Lord of fowls,” are all provided for in God’s arrangements for propitiatory sacrifices. [See Addenda, p. 19, Sacrifices of the Poor.]
1. The condition and history of every people showed the desire for sacrifice; that it could only be stifled when the strongest and deepest convictions of humanity were stifled. But where there was sense of guilt, dependence, obligation, thankfulness, there sacrifices were offered.
2. The entire Jewish people, irrespective of social gradation, had experienced God’s redeeming mercy, which constrained them all to seek Him with offerings. The Lord had ransomed them all, and was now drawing them into privileged relationship with Himself. He was “no respecter of persons”: all alike were within Divine grace. And equally “the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men” (Titus 2:11).
3. In every human heart there dwells the condemnation for sin and the promptings to seek propitiation with God.
For though each man bears his own special sin, and each class in society carries its own distinctive transgression; yet all know that “all have sinned,” and that God requires of every “wicked man that he forsake his way and return unto the Lord” (Isaiah 55:7).
II. DIVINE PROVISION FOR PROPITIATION IS VARIED TO SUIT ALL GRADATIONS OF HUMAN SOCIETY.
In no demand He makes does He “exact more than our iniquity deserveth” Nay, He relieves the weight of requirement that none should find the yoke other than easy, and the burden light.
1. The resources and ability of the offerer are considered. God is no “hard taskmaster.” None can be discouraged by sense of inability.
2. No one is exempted from the demand of a propitiatory offering. The poorest are included in God’s arrangement equally with the wealthiest.
3. Liberty of choice is allowed that each may prove his sincerity by bringing his utmost and best. God tests us thus.
4. Humblest offerings were as acceptable with God as the costliest: evidenced in the minuteness of God’s directions for the poor man’s offering of the fowls.
5. Supreme importance was attached to the spirit in which the offering was brought (Leviticus 1:3). Thus “let us draw near with a pure heart” (Hebrews 10:22).
III. AMID ALL VARIETY IN SACRIFICES THE ONE QUALITY OF PROPITIATION WAS CONSPICUOUS AND INHERENT.
1. The quality of the offering, as faultless, was specified, indicating that substitution could only be effective as giving to God a sinless victim in place of a sinful offerer.
2. The identifying act of the offerer denoted his sense of deserving the fate of the victim about to die.
3. His being detained at the door of the tabernacle until the sacrifice was offered impressed the truth that God was too holy for sinful man to approach until propitiated by sacrifice.
4. By the process of cleansing, flaying, and burning, a typical foreshadowing was enacted of the atoning sufferings of Christ, as the world’s atonement, the “propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). And in that all-inclusive sacrifice every variety of the human family has a share; none too poor to be excluded, none too wealthy to be exempted; for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
OUTLINES ON VERSES
Leviticus 1:1.—Theme: GOD WITHIN THE TABERNACLE. “And the Lord spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
The tabernacle was erected in the midst of a people supernaturally separated from the rest of mankind to be the recipients and mediators of a revelation which Jehovah would make of Himself to the world. In it a constant worship was to be maintained by the priests in the name of the holy nation.
I. Within the sanctuary God makes His presence known.
He may do it by “calling” men to Him there, or by “speaking” to them in messages of truth and life. Many have found, who entered the sanctuary, “surely God is in this place.” He is there—
1. Invisible. Moses saw not God; but “no man hath seen God at any time.” He is the “King immortal, invisible.” Yet there are solemn realities which eye hath not seen. The material world has in it many invisible facts: forces and agencies hidden from physical sight. Life also is crowded with invisible activities, energies of vast influence which elude vision. Holy places are not void scenes, an Unseen Presence is there.
2. Recognised. A solemn symbol dwelt in the tabernacle: the shekinah cloud. We have no visible sign; but none the less God makes His presence realised in His tabernacles now. He has spiritual resources for attesting that He is amidst “the congregation” still.
3. Gracious. Not as on Sinai, too awful for men to bear the sight; but gently dwelling above the mercy-seat. How graciously the Lord reveals Himself in His holy place now; to arouse the heedless, allure the sinful, heal the stricken, reveal His compassion, cleanse the contrite, save the trustful soul.
II. Within the tabernacle God sends His messages of redemption to the congregation.
Here the Lord sent directions for sacrifices which should be for an “atonement.” The messages through Moses contained a system of religious truth answering all the spiritual necessities of Israel, revealing:
(1) The nature and character of God.
(2) The covenant relation between Him and them.
(3) Provision for the pardon and restoration of the penitent transgressor.
(4) The condemnation of the wilfully and persistently disobedient.
In these Christian times He sends tidings and offers of redemption unto His people; gracious messages of salvation in Christ to the congregations who gather.
1. By His minister and representative: as by Moses.
2. Based upon the merits of atoning sacrifice.
3. Requiring man’s response and cooperation.
III. Within the sanctuary God is willing to meet every soul who will seek Him.
“If any of you,” etc. No restriction. True we may meet the Lord elsewhere than in His sanctuaries now; yet none but may find Him there. Only in order to meet Him acceptably, now as then, each must
1. Come with sacrificial offering: i.e., resting on the atonement of Christ.
2. With thorough earnestness of desire. Not perfunctorily, not in alien mind, but “of his own voluntary will,” i.e., with personal effort to meet Him acceptably, and in His own way.
3. With self-dedication. Suggested in the burnt offering. Lay yourself before God, He will “receive you graciously.”
Leviticus 1:2.—Theme: REVELATION OF PROPITIATION. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall bring your offering of the herd and of the flock”.
I. The Author of Divine Revelation—God. “The Lord called unto Moses.”
God could reveal: He knew what man needed: would not remain silent, and let man perish for want of light additional to that of Nature.
II. The Medium of Divine Revelation—Man. To a representative and brother of our race Divine communications came. Most reasonable and appropriate vehicle. Glorifying to God: dignifying to man.
III. The Scene of Divine Revelation—Tabernacle. Sacred place fitted to be audience chamber with Deity. Revelations given in sacred spots, as well as to select persons.
IV. The Means of Divine Revelation—Speech. The Lord “spake” unto Moses, used human speech, though imperfect; other language would have been unintelligible and useless.
V. The Purpose of Divine Revelation—Redemption. To sanctify from guilt, to save from consequences of bin, to recover holiness in man here and for ever. Such redemption
(1) Mediatorial—through priest;
(2) Sacrificial—through oblations.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 1:2.—Theme: THE WAY OF ACCESS TO GOD. “If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.”
Human liberty is here recognised, but it is a liberty emphatically restricted. Any man might bring an offering if he desired; but if he did, he must bring it according to absolute directions. In our dealings with God there must be acceptance of a Will beyond our own will; obedience to commands; reverent and humble observance of Divine authority. “Who art thou that repliest against God?” “Hath not the potter power over the clay?” etc. “Whatsoever He saith unto thee, do it.” “If ye be willing and obedient,” etc.
I. In our approach to God nothing is left to human invention.
1. There are conditions to our acceptable approach. Therefore, he who would draw nigh should pause and ask solemnly: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, or bow before the high God?” Do not “rush in where angels fear to tread.” Think Whom you approach, and inquire how to draw near aright.
2. There are minutely revealed conditions for our approach. Neither priest nor people might take one step except as directed (Leviticus 8:36; Leviticus 9:6-7). We may be sincere and even devout in spirit when adopting methods and ideas of our own in spiritual behaviour; but God will not have our way, but His way. It must be according to the revelation of God.
II. For our rightful approach to Him God has made full and gracious provision.
1. A place for meeting God (Leviticus 1:1). Within the sanctuary; at the mercy-seat; in the “secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High” God asks us apart. “Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Israel had a “worldly sanctuary,” because then “the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” Now there is no outer court for the people and inner temple for the priest; all may meet God in “heavenly places, in Christ, Jesus”—drawing near God in blessed privacy.
2. A sacrificial basis of acceptance.
Being guilty man needs propitiatory sacrifice. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” This basis of a propitiatory sacrifice constituted Israel an acceptable people with God. The atonement of Christ is the guarantee of our welcome also. “Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” we may approach “in full assurance of faith.”
3. A mediatorial ministry “The priests shall bring the blood” (Leviticus 1:5). “We have such a High Priest … a minister of the sanctuary,” etc (comp. Hebrews 8:1-2). Jesus represents us there continually; “in the presence of God for us”; and He presents to God our sacrifices and gifts; “by Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice,” etc. (Hebrews 13:15)
III. By such arrangements for our acceptable approach, God has laid us under most solemn obligations to seek Him.
1. Shall God wait in vain within the holy place, and none draw near? He says, “Seek ye My face.” Surely our “hearts shall say to Him, Thy face, O Lord, will I seek.”
2. Can sinful man despise the sacrifice of Jesus offered for his propitiation? Nay! “My soul looks backs to see,” etc.
3. With such a Priest within the Holy Place, have we no mediation to ask, no sins to confess, no offerings to bring?
Leviticus 1:3.—Theme: NECESSITY OF SACRIFICE. “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice.”
The fall of man necessitated “the republication of the religion of Nature (as Butler says) with additional truths and additional proofs.” Man required to be taught how depraved he had become, and how he might be delivered from the guilt and consequences of that fallen state. The burnt offering was eminently calculated to impress upon worshippers in the tabernacle services
I. The heinous nature of sin.
II. The wickedness of idolatry.
III. The oneness of Israel’s nationality.
IV. The duty and privilege of Divine worship.
V. The need of substitutionary sacrifice in order to salvation.
VI. The sovereign claim of Jehovah upon His people’s life and love.
The doctrine of mediation and vicarious sacrifice is taught in Nature, we get the principles there; but the eternal and spiritual truths, which those principles illustrate, are presented in the Levitical Ritual; and pre-eminently in the Redemption wrought by Jesus Christ. The directions concerning the burnt offering show that the recognition of the existence of sin and the need of its removal in order to acceptable service lies at the foundation of the Mosaic and Christian economies.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 1:3.—Theme: VOLITION IN WORSHIP. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.”
As expressive of our Saviour’s act in devoting Himself to be man’s sacrifice, it accords with the grand statement, “Lo I come to do Thy will, O God; Thy law is within My heart.” And as expressive of the soul’s act in coming before God with his own offerings of love and service, or with the free exercise of trust in Jesus’ atonement, it suggests the right state in which to seek God. The offering is not the chief thing in the transaction, but the spirit of the man occupied in it.
I. True worship springs from the soul. Should be—
1. Spontaneous. As a joy, not constrained, not reluctant.
2. Grateful. Recognising the privilege, seizing the gracious opportunity.
3. Earnest. With a whole heart in the act.
II. Acceptable worship depends on the offerer’s will. On—
1. The thoroughness of his purpose. Christ asks, “What wilt thou?” and makes His answer wait upon our desire.
2. The ardour of his approach. Come with intensity of aim, ask large things, cry, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.”
3. The individuality of his suit. Every man must be himself in worship, not echo others’ prayers, not repeat others’ acts, but stand before God as a worshipper, having something which is “his own”—to repent of, to ask for, to offer
III. Sacrificial worship is the transgressor’s personal transaction.
1. The victim must be one which the offerer himself brings. We must “bring” our sacrifice now, come before God with the mention and merits of Christ.
2. The offerer must exert his own faith in the act of substitution. Claiming Christ’s merit, identifying himself with the atonement of Calvary by his appropriating faith.
3. The transaction must be wholly one of volition. God does not force us unwilling. We must act with a prompt and earnest spirit, or miss the precious benefits of the Redeemer’s sacrifice.
Note: Faith, when real, acts eagerly. Love is always swift in volition. Misery (as over sin) goes willingly to the Lord with its “sacrifice of a broken heart,” or with trust in the redemption of the Cross.
IV. Self dedicatory worship draws its virtues from the free will which prompts it.
1. Only thus is it sincere. Yet some offer themselves to God moved by example, induced by companions, under transient excitement, agitated by alarm, but void of full, and earnest, and determined action of the will.
2. Only thus is it pleasing to God. He “loveth a cheerful giver.” Whatever we bring, it should be with enentirety, resoluteness.
3. Only thus can it gain us spiritual benefit. “With what measure we mete it shall be measured to us.” If we are heedless and heartless in going to God, He will return leanness to our souls. But He has “abundant pardon,” “plenteous redemption,” “abounding grace,” for earnest souls.
They who give themselves wholly and voluntarily to the Lord, He “receives graciously and loves freely.” [See Addenda, p. 19, Consecration.]
Leviticus 1:4.—Theme: ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the offering.”
This book might be called the Gospel according to Leviticus, for it exhibits the gospel in its spirit, though under figurative rites. One of the fathers says that every syllable of this book contains a mystery, and Paul tells us that “the law was a shadow of good things,” etc.
If a man happen to find a monument of antiquity with inscriptions of old letters and characters, how anxious is he to decipher the meaning and reveal the hidden mystery! Much more should we be anxious to examine and investigate the figures of this book. Every sacrifice was a kind of silent sermon presented to the eye, indicating the nature of Christ’s office and the design of His death. And by such visible signs the gospel was preached; just as when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
I. That God alone is competent to reveal the nature of the sacrifice and the method of our acceptance.
He strongly resents every neglect of His prescribed institutions and every invasion of His prerogative.
“The Lord called to Moses and spake unto him,” etc. In the setting up of the tabernacle, every particular is closed with “As the Lord commanded Moses.” Learn, then, how sweet commanded obedience is. “In vain do ye worship by tradition.”
If none of the outward offices were left to human invention, how much less able is man to originate the terms of acceptance with God! None but God knew the evil of sin, the value of the soul, the conditions of worthy approach, etc. God prescribes a method of acceptance and worship for all classes. All stand in equal need of an interest in the atonement; all must seek it on the same terms, by God’s prescribed rule; all shall derive the same benefit. The rich were to present a bullock; but where the ability differed the offering differed. Those next in degree were to present a sheep or goat, and those poorer still were to present turtle doves or young pigeons.
It should be remembered that the offering of the Virgin Mary at the birth of our Lord was not a costly, but a simple, one—the humblest; no more than a turtle dove and two young pigeons. To put honour on humble poverty Jesus was born in a borrowed manger, and was buried in a borrowed grave. “Foxes have holes.” “God dwells with the poor in spirit.”
II. That God prescribes not only the offering itself but the spirit in which it should be presented.
1. It was to be a bullock, to show that the best of our possessions are to be offered to the Lord; and without blemish. God condemns those who brought the blind and lame. And it intimates, too, the purity of the appointed sacrifice. “Such an High Priest became us,” etc. The excellency and perfection of Christ had much to do with the efficacy of His sacrifice. “A lamb without blemish or spot.” “Who through the Eternal Spirit,” etc.
Some are desirous of a cheap religion, but when God provided a sacrifice it was the most costly; “not silver and gold, but precious blood.” As God deemed nothing too precious for us, we deem nothing too precious for Him.
2. It was to be freely offered. “Of His own voluntary will.” To show that God does not accept constrained service. “The people offered willingly.” “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” “With my whole heart have I sought Thee.” “I beseech you,” etc. (Romans 12:1).
3. It was to be openly presented—to show that we publicly confess Christ before men. “At the door of the congregation.” “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” “Whosoever is ashamed.” A public avowal—for the good of others and for the glory of God.
4. The offerer must take a distinct personal part in the transaction. “He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering,” to show that he was deeply sensible of his need of mercy; to show that he fully concurred in the appointed sacrifice, that he was anxious to transfer all his guilt to the victim, and derived all his hope from it. “My faith would lay her hand.”
Our devout affections must centre in Christ; our only trust be reposed in Him. “We receive the atonement.” Not merely driven by the stress of necessity, but a hearty concurrence.
5. Not only was the victim slain, but the blood sprinkled.
6. The whole was to be presented by the priest. Not only at the altar, but within the veil.
III. That God has left us in no doubt of our acceptance when thus approaching Him in faith and prayer. “It shall be accepted for him, to make an atonement for him.”
1. The substitutionary offering is allowed by God to stand in the sinner’s stead—“accepted for him.”
2. The provision of the substitute is even a more welcome arrangement than that the sinner should bear his own punishment. “It shall be accepted.” God “desires not the death of a sinner,” is well pleased that we find escape by laying our hand on the Sacrifice of Calvary.
3. It effects a full “atonement” for the soul, satisfies the Divine requirements, and secures the justification of the believer. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
4. It makes the offerer himself an object of pleasure in God’s regard Not merely is our substitutionary offering “accepted” by God, but we become ourselves beloved for the sake of our trust in the Sacrifice. “I will accept you, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 43:27).
Leviticus 1:9.—Theme: THE ALTAR FIRE “An Offering made by Fire.”
The flame devours. The victim is consumed. Seek the truth reflected from the altar fire. The Cross flashes it out vividly. The fire consumes the sacrifice.
I. That fire tells what is sin’s due.
It portrays what the guilty must bear. Look on the consuming blaze, and think how the “fire shall be ever burning, it shall never go out.” Remember Christ’s picture of the sinner’s doom—“everlasting fire”; “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” Ponder, therefore, sin’s sure doom!
II. That fire suggests the anguish of Christ.
Type of the Cross is that altar; and of the sufferings of Jesus, that burning fire. “He made His soul an offering for sin.”
“O, the pangs His soul sustained!”
His anguish was as a “consuming fire,” it raged within Him as a scorching blaze. It was as though God’s wrath was hot and devastating upon Him. Mark, therefore, the Saviour’s redeeming grace!
III That fire portrays the fervour of Christian consecration.
With burning devotion, and flaming seal, and self-consuming love, ardent, glowing, manifest. Shall Christ’s “zeal consume Him,” and ours lack intensity? The entire life of a Christian should be one continuous blaze of flaming love and ardent devotion. [See Addenda: p. 19, Consecration.]
Leviticus 1:9.—Theme: THE SPIRIT’S EFFICACY. “An offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.”
The Holy Spirit is symbolised by fire. All the grace and virtue of sacrifices depend upon the Spirit
I. Altar sacrifices were consecrated by the element of Divinely kindled fire.
The fire came from heaven (comp. Leviticus 9:24): and any fire Lot thus supernaturally originated was offensive (comp. Leviticus 10:1). That fire coming “out from before the Lord” symbolises the Holy Ghost, which came as fire from God on the Pentecost. Only through the Spirit’s sanctifying could those offerings have become holy.
II. Christ’s sacrifice was rendered efficacious through the energy of the Holy Spirit.
He suffered in the spirit. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God.” That Divine fire burned within the soul of Jesus: the Spirit was given without measure unto Him; and His sacred unction consecrated the sufferings of Jesus to be a perfect atonement for human sin.
III. Spiritual sacrifices depend for their sanctity on the Spirit s grace.
Of Jesus it was declared “He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Is not that the “Spirit of burning” which rendered “holy” everyone “written among the living in Jerusalem “? [See Isaiah 4:3-4.] This “manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11) is the occasion of all Christian sanctity and of all acceptable sacrifice and service. His glowing grace and energy within the soul constrains and seals our devotions; and “the unction from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20) makes our lives and offerings “a sweet savour unto the Lord.”
IV. All sacrifices sanctified by the Spirit rise as a delightful incense unto God.
When Noah, saved by the ark, burned his sacrifice of gratitude upon the altar he reared, “the Lord smelled a sweet savour” (Genesis 8:21).
So from the holocaust in the tabernacle there arose “by fire a sweet savour unto the Lord.” The ransomed Israelites, brought again from captivity to God’s “holy mountain,” should once more offer their oblations, and God would “accept them with their sweet savour” (Ezekiel 20:41). Supremely the Lord Jesus Himself was “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2). And we, whom God “causeth to triumph in Christ,” are “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Every sacrifice which is the out-flowing of our love and zeal for the Lord, becomes, through the virtue of the Spirit consecrating our gifts, “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
The Holy Spirit is the sacred fire in the Christian life, by whose gracious influences our offerings ascend in sweetness and acceptableness “unto the Lord.” “Quench not the Spirit.” [See Addenda p. 19, The Ascending Fire.]
Leviticus 1:11. Theme: A LIFE-OFFERING. “He shall kill it on the side of the altar.”
I. Its substitutionary significance.
1. That the offerer deserved to forfeit his life.
2. That he sought escape from the penalty of his sinfulness.
3 That he believed God would accept the victim in lieu of himself.
4. That substitution not alone sufficed Jehovah, but was more acceptable to Him than the sinner’s death.
II. Its practical interpretation.
1. Life peculiarly belongs to God: it is supremely His part in creation. Lower things He gives to man; but life is His.
2. Representing thus His olaim on His creatures, it stands as the emblem of what we owe Him. What we owe we ought to pay. We should give our life to God. It is our duty.
3. It denotes that what is most precirus in us, and forms the supremely valuable element in our being, should all and wholly be the Lord’s. Not the inferior part, not the less essential qualities, not “part of the price,” but everything in us of worth: our life.
III. Its Gospel foreshadowing.
1. The body of Jesus is the offering pourtrayed. “A body hast Thou prepared Me.”
2. He yielded to God man’s duty: the dutiful life man had failed to surrender to Him.
3. He gave life in its perfectness to God. In Himself perfect, He offered Himself wholly and absolutely and perfectly to God: and the perfectly obedient Man then “seeing that all things were now accomplished, cried, It is finished, and gave up the ghost.”
Leviticus 1:13.—Theme: COMPLETENESS IN SELF DEVOTION. “The priest shall bring it all, and burn it on the altar.”
1. In this particular the Burnt offering differed from the Meat offering and Peace offering; for in these only a part was burnt with fire.
2. It differed also from the Sin offering, which though wholly burnt, was not burnt “on the alter.”
I. Man’s duty to God is the absolute surrender of all.
Not of one faculty or several; but the entirety.
1. This accords with Christ’s summary of the first commandment: which demands all the mind, all the soul, all the affection, all the strength. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all,” etc. (Matthew 22:37).
2. The minute and all-inclusive devotion of the victim affirms the same truth. The “head,” the “fat,” the “legs,” the “inwards” all are enumerated. Symbolic: “head” of thoughts; “fat” of vigour; “legs” of walk, conduct; “inwards” of affections and emotions.
II. Christ’s performance of Man’s duty to God was characterised by absolute surrender of all.
1. Jesus reserved nothing; He gave up all. Had there been but one thought in the mind of Christ not perfectly given to God, one affection in His heart not yielded to His Father’s will, one step in the walk of Jesus not taken for God but for His own pleasure, then He would not have offered Himself, or been accepted, as “a whole burnt offering” to Jehovah. But all was offered, and all was consumed on the altar.
2. From first to last, in Jesus, self had no place. So entirely was His whole life devoted to His Father that it almost seems He could have had no will of His own. Everything He did or said was for God. His first recorded words were, “I must be about My Father’s business”; His last, “It is finished.” Yet as perfect man, He had a human will, and human affections. But no one hour was spent, nor act performed for His own advancement or gratification; all was given in entire devotedness to God.
III. Christian self devotion will attempt to re produce Christ’s absolute surrender of all.
1. True, this is a conception of life repudiated by the world. “Men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself” (Psalms 49:18).
2. Few Christians exhibit such self devotion to God. Our thoughts are for self, our ease, our interest, etc. But if David resolved “Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which doth cost me nothing”; if Ananias was punished for grieving the Spirit by “keeping back part of the price”; surely we whom “the love of Christ constraineth” should rise to highest devotion of our all to God; and, like our Lord who “gave Himself” (Ephesians 5:2) in all His perfectness, “yield ourselves unto God.”
ILLUSTRATIVE ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 1
Revelation. Varro, a Roman writer of the first century B.C., states, that in his day he had been at pains to collect the various opinions on the question “What is the true object of human life?” and had reckoned up as many as three hundred and twenty different answers. How much we need “the wisdom which is from above,” teaching from God! He reveals what we need to know for our truest good on earth, our acceptance with Him now, and our entrance at last into His presence. We are to listen to Him, and obey His word.
“ ’Tis revelation satisfies all doubts,
Explains all mysteries except her own,
And so illuminates the path of life
That fools discover it, and stray no more.”
Dr. Taylor of Norwich once said to me (wrote John Newton), “Sir, I have collated every word in the Hebrew Scriptures seventeen times, and it is very strange if the doctrine of the atonement you hold should not have been found by me.” “I am not surprised at this” (John Newton answered); “I once went to light my candle, and could not, for the extinguisher was on it. Now prejudice, from education, learning, etc., often proves an extinguisher; it is not enough that you bring the candle, you must remove the extinguisher.”
The Ascending Fire. “The symbolism of this combustion (upon the altar) is manifest. It was a sending of the gift to God. After arranging the divided or the selected portions of the carcase in the heaven-born fire, which had issued forth from the Divine presence at the consecration of the tabernacle, they were burned, that is to say, they were etherialised and they rose to heaven as ‘a sweet savour.’ To burn was to effectually present.”—Principal Cave.
Sacrifices of the Poor. The Jews at Jassy still bring offerings of the fowls. “In one house” records those who were observers of the incident, “we came to the window of the house and saw distinctly what was going on within. A little boy was reading the prayers, and his widowed mother stood over him with a white hen in her hands. When he came to a certain place in the prayer, the mother lifted up the struggling fowl, and waving it round her head, repeated these words: ‘This be my substitute, this be my exchange: this fowl shall go to death and I to a blessed life.’ This was done three times over, and then the door of the house was opened, and out ran the boy carrying the fowl to the shocket, or slayer, to be killed by him in the proper manner.” This occurred on the eve of the Day of Atonement.
“Sacrifice is the first element of religion, and resolves itself in theological language into the love of God.”—Froude, “Short Stories.”
Propitiation. Cowper, the poet, speaking of his religious experiences, says, “But the happy period which was to shake off my fetters, and afford me a clear opening of the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus, was now arrived. I flung myself into a chair near the window, and seeing a Bible there, ventured once more to apply to it for comfort and instruction. The first verse I saw was the 25th of the 3rd of Romans: ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.’ Immediately I received strength to believe, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the Atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fulness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed and received the Gospel.”
Consecration. “And here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto Thee,” etc.—Communion Service.
“From henceforth thou shalt learn that there is love to long for, pureness to desire, a mount of consecration it were good to scale.”—Jean Ingelow.
On the seal of the Baptist Missionary Society is the figure of an ox, standing patiently, with a plough on one side, and an altar on the other, with the inscription beneath: “Ready for either,” to serve or suffer.
Calvin’s motto was: “I give Thee all; I keep back nothing for myself.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany