Leviticus – a picture of Christ
God is now calling from the tabernacle and tells the people how to make offerings.
The burnt offering was to be the first born male, perfect (perfection of Christ), of the cattle or sheep (obedient), freewill (only way for salvation). It is a sweet savor unto God. This is a picture of Christ, obedient unto death. It was the offering made by those who wanted an approach to God. Burnt offering reveals what God sees in Christ.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:2 (ESV)
They were told to offer the sacrifice in one place. That reminds us that God sets the terms of our worship and sacrifice!
They were also told that they needed to lay their hands on the offering. This symbolized the transfer of the sins from the offerer to the animal. Likewise, in Christ’s death, our sin was transferred from us to Him – He was our substitution.
There was a specific ritual involved in the freewill sacrifice. This is a picture of the innocent dying for the guilty, just as Christ died for our sins. The sacrifice was mutilated, and then the priest would burn up the whole animal. This created a sweet savor to God, which is a picture of how we need to serve – with our whole selves!
“We cannot give our bodies to God and reserve our hearts, nor serve him in the spirit without bringing that service out into controlling influence over the flesh also. The whole man must go, or nothing. Nor is the ultimate doom of sin a mere bodily suffering, or the mere consuming of the exterior members; nor yet mere mental woe and spiritual grief. As the Savior says, it is the destruction of "both body and soul in hell."" —Gospel in Leviticus
Next, we see the meal offering. Not only did the people have to sacrifice for the propitiation of their sins, but they had to also bring the best of their grain. Remember, they couldn’t just go down to the store and buy their offerings. They had to lovingly grow everything that was offered; they had to mill their own flour; they made their own oils and scents. It took a great deal of time and effort to sacrifice appropriately. It was a very specific offering – again, God sets the rules for worship and offering.
The salt speaks of faithfulness and love. It purifies and makes wholesome. In the culture of the time, salt was frequently used to seal an agreement. It became known as a symbol of friendship. God's covenant is frequently referred to as a "covenant of salt".
Why no leaven and honey? Leaven represents sin, pride, malice – outward expressions of our depravity. Honey, on the other hand, is sweet. It also acts as a fermenter. It represents the inward depravity (gossip and hidden sins). God wanted only the best!
Next – there is a “peace offering”. This speaks of the peace that brings us into communion with the Father – the peace He is because of the cross. It is a joyful sacrifice! This offering can be male or female. In the burnt offering, all ended up on the altar. In the peace offering, it’s only the hidden parts which end up on the altar! Those parts were the most valuable in the ancient cultures, and again, this points to the most valuable parts of us are to be offered to the Lord.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Eph 2:13-22 (ESV)
Only Christ can break down our separating walls. Only believers can share the things of Christ.
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 (ESV)
Are you as awed as I am that the ancient texts all point to Christ?
I. The peace-offering was a bloody offering. Everything in Christian life, justification and sanctification, the forgiveness of our sins, and the acceptable-ness of our services, our hopes and our spiritual festivities, run back into Christ's vicarious sufferings, as their fountain and foundation. If he had not submitted to be slain and offered for us, we could not be forgiven; and if not forgiven, we never could be holy and acceptable; and without being holy and acceptable, we never could have peace.
II. The peace-offering comes after the meat-offering. We must present the "fine flour" of our best affections, and the fresh first fruits of uncorrupted obedience, before we can come to feast upon the rich provisions of the altar. We must surrender ourselves to God, and give up to him in a "covenant of salt," before we can taste of the "peace-offering," or be happy in the Lord.
III. The peace-offering was so arranged, that the most inward, the most tender, and the most marrowy part of the sacrifice became the Lord's part. The inner fat of the animal, the kidneys, the caul of the liver, and, if a sheep, the great fatty outward appendage, were to be burned on the altar, a sweet savor unto the Lord. God must be remembered in all our joys.
IV. The peace-offerings were sacrifices of gratitude and praise—a species of joyous, thankful banquets. When the Jew came to make a peace-offering, it was with his heart moved and his thoughts filled with some distinguished mercy.
V. The feasting of the peace-offering was on sacred food.
—Gospel in Leviticus, The
The fourth chapter deals with the sin offering. This is the offering that became the most important. It was offered during the feasts: Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur. It brought the High Priest into the Holy of Holies.
The Burnt Offering tells Who Christ IS. Christ meets the demands of God’s holy standards. We see the preciousness of Christ. The burnt offering was voluntary. The burnt offering ascended – toward heaven.
The Sin Offering tells what Christ DID. Christ meets the deep and desparate needs of mankind. We see the hatefulness of sin. The sin offering was commanded. The sin offering was poured out – down.
Types of sins, and the sacrificial requirements for each, are outlined in chapter 4:
Sins of ignorance. Man is a sinner by nature! God has a remedy for our sins. No longer are we expected to offer up a bull. Jesus paid by His blood at Calvary.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalms 32:5 (ESV)
Sins of the priest and details of conducting the sacrifice. The priest’s sins were the people’s sins because he was the one who led the people. His sin was no different; his responsibility was higher. If you are a leader in your church – teacher, worship leader, preacher – you have a greater responsibility! You lead by example.
Sins of the congregation. Remember, God judges both the righteous and the unrighteous in a group – a church, a nation. It is your responsibility to pray for the sins of the nation, or the sins you see in your church, or even your work place. Don’t gossip. Don’t slander. Don’t have a “prayer meeting” which simply gives you “permission” to gossip and slander. Take the sins you see to God. Ask Him what He wants you to do. And remember that there is a Biblical way to confront sin in the church:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matt 18:15-20 (ESV)
No gossip. No slander. Talk to the sinner. If s/he doesn’t listen, bring witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell the church – and PRAY!
Sins of the ruler. Guilt must be established! This is a civil ruler, placed in a position of responsibility. The offering is not as valuable as the bull that the priest has to offer.
Sins of the common people (You and me!) This sin must also be established – no rumor or gossip. This is a sin of knowledge. Way back then, a person had to offer a kid female goat. Today:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
As I read through Leviticus, I am even more thankful for Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine having to sacrifice a lamb or a goat for my sins. I am thankful that Jesus did it all for me on the cross!
I hope that showing you the picture of Christ in Leviticus is helping you understand the reason that God allowed this book to become Scripture. Focus on the need for the sacrifices and rituals and understand that these laws all pointed to the suffering sacrifice Jesus made for you on that cross. Look at the details involved in the law and understand that it’s NOT how you and I want to worship that matters. It’s all about how God wants us to worship. Marvel in His greatness and love. I will see you tomorrow!